Norman Regional Health System

Thursday, March 4, 2021

A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who were overweight who drank diet soda ate more calories than people who were overweight who drank regular soda. The possible reason? Artificial sweeteners used in diet soda are addictive and are linked to increased hunger and more frequent eating throughout the day.    

A 2019 study by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association also found that drinking two or more diet drinks per day was linked to an increased risk of heart attack, clot-based stroke and early death in women over the age of 50, with highest risk among women who were African American or obese.

Previous studies also indicated links between diet drinks and the development of dementia and type 2 diabetes.

A Look at Better Beverage Choices

If you are ready to toss out the diet drinks — those that are artificially sweetened — try not to replace them with their sugar-sweetened counterparts. Instead, make a switch to low-sugar or no-sugar alternatives like water, low-fat or fat-free milk, 100 percent vegetable or fruit juice, coffee or unsweetened tea.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, added sugars make up more than 13% of the total calories that Americans consume each day, which exceeds the recommended limits for added sugar. The rates are especially high among children and young adults. Beverages account for almost half (47%) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population. They also account for nearly 20% of a person’s total caloric intake.

Too much sugar intake can lead to weight gain and the development of serious health conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Need help weaning off your favorite beverage? The American Heart Association offers these tips:

  • Make the changes gradually: Don’t go cold turkey when giving up diet or sugar-sweetened drinks initially. Consider reducing the amount you drink each day until you are no longer making those beverage selections.
  • Water, water, water: Water is a great alternative and essential to your overall health. To mix things up, try sparkling water or adding fruit to your water for a little natural flavor.
  • Learn how to read labels: Added sugars go by many names. Examples include: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, glucose, raw sugar, brown sugar, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, maltose, lactose, turbinado sugar and more. The closer to the beginning of the list of ingredients on a nutrition label, the higher concentration of that ingredient in the beverage. Also, pay attention to the number of servings in each beverage. (Use this same advice when making changes to your eating habits.)
  • Opt for a smoothie instead of a sugary drink: Try making a homemade smoothie with fruits and vegetables to give yourself a boost of energy, fiber and a little sweetness rather than reaching for a sugary beverage or a diet drink. For more protein, add plain or low-fat yogurt or milk.

Find a Weight-loss Center

If you or a loved one are looking for help creating a weight-loss plan or are interested in weight-loss surgery, the providers at Journey Clinic — Norman Regional Health System’s comprehensive weight-loss program — may be able to assist. The clinic offers medical and surgical options for patients wanting to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.