Those who drink diet beverages may then compensate by eating high-calorie discretionary foods.
The team studied 10 years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
In this, participants were asked to recall everything they ate or drank over the course of 2 nonconsecutive days. While previous studies looked simply at what people ate and drank, this study looks at the nutritional values of the foods and beverages.In the US, about 21% of calories consumed come from beverages, including coffee, tea, alcohol, fruit juice, milk, fruit drinks and sodas.
Obese diet drinkers consumed most calories from discretionary foods
What An found was that these so-called "discretionary" foods - cookies, ice cream, fries and pastries - are eaten in greater amounts by those picking the diet beverage than by those favoring the non-diet beverages, including sugary drinks and alcohol.
In addition, obese adults in the study group who drank diet beverages consumed even more calories in these discretionary foods than normal-weight participants who drank sugar-sweetened beverages.
An describes what diet beverage drinkers are doing as a "compensation effect," explaining:
"It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips. Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods."
People who like these diet beverages, the study suggests, should think about what they are eating as they are likely to be simply eating the calories they did not drink.In 2013, Medical News Today reported on research that suggests that weight-loss soda drinks may have the opposite effect.
Written by Jonathan Vernon