The study, published in the June issue of Obesity and paid for by the American Beverage Association, suggests that diet drinks may be better for weight loss than plain water. The study tested 303 men and women who followed the same diet for 12 weeks. But half were randomly assigned to drink at least 24 ounces of water daily, and the rest the same amount of artificially sweetened drinks.
After controlling for age, sex, ethnicity and initial weight and blood pressure, researchers found that those who drank diet drinks lost an average of 14.2 pounds, compared with a 10-pound loss for the water drinkers.
The mechanism, the authors write, is unclear, but the group on diet drinks reported slightly lower scores on a questionnaire measuring the degree of feelings of hunger.
“There’s no magic in diet soda,” said the lead author, James O. Hill, a professor of health and wellness at the University of Colorado. But the less intense feelings of hunger among the drinkers, he said, may have made it easier for them to adhere to the diet.
“From everything we know about diet soda,” he continued, “this result was totally expected. There’s not a single randomized controlled trial that shows the opposite.”
--Nicholas Bakalar, NYT, on the case for reaching for that Diet Coke