By Will Hall, Message Editor
A study has found that children and teens who drank diet beverages typically consumed an extra 200 calories a day, which adds up to an extra pound of fat every 17.5 days.
Surprisingly, the daily calorie intakes of youth who consumed diet drinks were the same as their peers who drank the sugary or “regular” versions of the same sodas or other beverages.
The findings published in the journal Pediatric Obesity did not reveal why artificial sweeteners appear to cause increased calorie consumption. However, the authors suggested “physiologic mechanisms” could be causing the “augmentation of insulin levels” and changing the “reward response” in the brain, among other altered functions.
Regardless, the researchers said the results from studying the beverage consumption of more than 7,000 adolescents from 20112016 are important because of the high incidence of obesity combined with the related risks of type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and cancer among U.S. youth.
A recent American Heart Association science advisory concluded that “at this time, it is prudent to advise against prolonged consumption of LCSB by children.” The authors further stated that “the use of other alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages, with a focus on water, should be encouraged.” Our results support this recommendation, as while cross-sectional analyses cannot establish causality, LCSB consumption was associated with both higher energy intake and higher sugar intake in comparison with water, with energy intakes among LCSB consumers similar to SB consumers. Given that the highest intakes of energy, carbohydrates, and sugar were observed among combined consumers of LCSB + SB, these results suggest that LCSB may be used in addition to, rather than as a replacement for, SBs in the diet. These data challenge whether LCSB are helpful for lowering sugar or energy intake, and rather, suggest that they may in fact promote higher consumption.
Moreover, they agreed with an American Heart Association science advisory which urged against “prolonged consumption” of artificially sweetened beverages by children and encouraged the drinking of more water.