“A burger with extra cheese, fries on the side, an apple pie and a soda- actually make that diet. I’m cutting back on calories actually.”
A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics unveils that people may think they are avoiding calories when they opt for diet soda, but those who commonly choose diet drinks often compensate for the low calorie content by eating more unhealthy food. Sorry for bursting that diet bubble.
In the analysis, a University of Illinois researcher looked at the dietary habits of more than 22,000 U.S. adults over a 10-year period. Kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An looked at the subjects’ daily calorie intake as well as their consumption of “discretionary foods”—foods that do not belong to any major food group and are usually low in nutrients and high in sugar, sodium, fats, and cholesterol (we are looking at cookies and French fries – we are always looking at them).
The study also focused on the individuals’ consumption of five different types of drinks: diet or sugar-free drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages, coffee, tea and alcohol. 41% drank at least two beverages, and 25% three or more. Coffee was the most popular drink (53%), followed by sugar-sweetened beverages (43%), tea (26%), alcohol (22%) and diet beverages (21 percent).
Over 90% of people in the study ate discretionary foods every day. While people who drank diet beverages and coffee consumed fewer calories every day than drinkers of alcohol and sugary beverages, they ate a higher proportion of their daily calories from discretionary foods.
But Why? *softs sobs*
“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,” An said in a statement. “Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods.”
The study suggests switching to diet drinks in an effort to lose weight may not be a good strategy. More research is needed to determine precisely why people who opt for diet drinks consume more unhealthy food, but An says people should pay attention to both what they eat and what they drink.
In other news, diet soda drinkers are questioning their integrity.