Water versus diet beverages: What’s best for weight loss?

The Pediatric Insider

© 2014 Roy Benaroch, MD

A new study gives some support for the use of artificially sweetened drinks as part of a weight loss program for adults.

Researchers randomized 303 adults (mostly women, with an average age of 48) into two groups during a 12-week weight loss program. Both groups received the same behavioral weight loss strategies, but one was told to drink only water. The other group was encouraged to drink non-nutritive, artificially sweetened beverages like diet sodas, iced tea, and flavored water (none with more than 5 calories per serving.)

The average weight loss was better in the diet drink group than among those drinking only water—9 versus 13 pounds. And the people drinking diet beverages were less likely to report feeling hungry than those drinking only water.

Now, all of the study participants were enrolled in a comprehensive weight loss program, and this study only looked at a short-term, 12 week outcome. Diet soda alone is unlikely to help anyone.

There’s some fine print, too. This study was fully funded by “The American Beverage Association”—an organization, I think, that would benefit from increased sales of diet drinks. And 2 of the 9 authors of the paper received consulting fees from The Coca Cola Company. That doesn’t mean that the study is tainted or invalid, but it does mean that we ought to see some collaborative evidence before suggesting that dieters routinely drink Diet Coke or Crystal Light. For now, I’ll suggest that most children stick with water.

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One Comment on “Water versus diet beverages: What’s best for weight loss?”


  1. Diet sodas and other diet beverages can play a major role in dental caries depending on the consumption patterns. I do not recommend diet sodas to reduce caries risk. I have seen some research implicating diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as a diabetes risk factor.
    I recommend to stay away from them and applaud you highlighting who contributed to the finding of this specific study.

    Like


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