Big fat Americans who drink diet soda eat “significantly” more than their counterparts who drink regular sodas and other sugary beverages, according to a new study.

Researchers from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined national consumption patterns related to diet beverages and calorie intake to come up with the conclusion. The data was compiled from National Health Surveys conducted between 1999 and 2010, and the results were published in The American Journal of Public Health last week.
Consumption rates of diet soda in the U.S. have seen a dramatic jump over the last few decades. Twenty percent of the population consumes diet drinks today, up from three percent in 1965, according to the researchers.

The findings support previous research that found artificial sweeteners may cause greater activation of the brain's reward sensors, disrupt appetite control and therefore cause people to increase their overall food intake.

Interestingly, the more overweight people are, the more likely they are to drink diet sodas, the researchers found: 11% of healthy-weight, 19% of overweight and 22% of obese adults drink diet beverages. And the association between drinking diet sodas and eating more calories from solid foods only held for overweight and obese adults; drinking diet sodas did not affect the caloric consumption of healthy-weight people, the scientists found.

“The net increase in daily solid-food consumption associated with diet-beverage consumption was 88 kilocalories for overweight and 194 kilocalories for obese adults,” they found. Those kilocalories definitely add up over time.

“Heavier U.S. adults who drink diet beverages will need to reduce solid-food calorie consumption to lose weight,” the researchers conclude.

Thanks for figuring that one out for us, Sherlock.

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