Diet sodas are eagerly consumed by many weight conscious men and women who think they are “healthy alternatives” to sugar saturated sodas. “They may be free of calories but not of consequences,” says Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D., professor in the University of Texas School of Medicine in San Antonio, Texas.
Her proof comes from the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. It shows that diet soft drink consumption is associated with increased waist circumference in humans. The 474 participants, ages 65-74 were tracked for 10 years. The height, weight, waist circumference and diet soda intake were recorded.
In order to isolate the exact amount of obesity that resulted by consuming diet drinks, the results of the study were adjusted for age, smoking status, ethnicity, sex, education level, initial waist circumference, diabetes status, and levels of leisure-time physical activity.
Diet soft drink users, as a group, experienced 70 percent greater increases in waist circumference compared to non-users. People who drank two or more diet sodas a day had waistlines that increased five times more than the non-diet soda drinkers who drank water, juices and even regular sodas.
Why diet drinks cause obesity is not clearly understood but may be due to something called “taste dysfunction.” Artificial sweeteners taste many times sweeter than regular sugar. As a result your body expects foods to be extremely sweet. As a result you aren’t satisfied unless you have more fattening sugar-laden foods in your diet.
The Bible even warns against too many sweets: “It is not good to eat much honey.” (Proverbs 25:27, NKJV) This would probably apply to super-sweet sugar substitutes that distort the appetite, too.
Ellen White, a 19th century health reformer, also cautioned against excessive sweets in the diet. “Far too much sugar is ordinarily used in food. Cakes, sweet puddings, pastries, jellies, jams, are active causes of indigestion. Especially harmful are the custards and puddings in which milk, eggs, and sugar are the chief ingredients.” (Counsels to the Church, 223)
It appears from this study that this advice applies to artificially sweetened drinks as well. Natural fruit juice is better than diet-sodas but fresh fruit is even better than fruit juice.