Diet drinks more effective at helping you lose weight than water alone

Updated: 02 Jun 2014
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Diet drinks can help people lose more weight than water alone, a study claims
People who drank only water reported feeling hungrier and lost less weight. Previous research has found that people who consume diet drinks are less likely to crave dessert
Diet soft drinks are more effective at helping people lose weight than just drinking water, a study has found.
In the first research of its kind to directly compare drinking water with drinks such as Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi, scientists found people felt less hungry and were more likely to lose weight if they stuck to diet drinks.
The study, funded by the American Beverage Association, is likely to reignite the debate that drinking diet fizzy drinks can actually increase weight gain and sugar cravings.
It found people who consumed diet beverages lost an average of 13lb, while people in a control group, who were only allowed to drink water, lost just 9lb.
James Hill, executive director of the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center who co-authored the research, said: ‘This study clearly demonstrates diet beverages can in fact help people lose weight, directly countering myths in recent years that suggest the opposite effect – weight gain.
'In fact, those who drank diet beverages lost more weight and reported feeling significantly less hungry than those who drank water alone.‘
A total of 303 people took part in the 12 week clinical study, which is being published in the journal Obesity.
Participants were divided into two groups – a control group which drank water only and a diet beverage group, which was asked to drink at least 24 ounces of diet soft drinks every day.
The exercise and eating habits of both groups, as part of a weight loss treatment programme, remained the same throughout the three months.
The diet fizzy drinks group also reported feeling significantly less hungry and had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, a type of ‘bad’ cholesterol. 
After 12 weeks a total of 64 per cent of people in the diet drinks group lost at least five per cent of their total body weight. Losing this amount of weight has been shown to improve health – including lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Just 43 per cent of people in the ‘water only’ control group were able to lose five per cent of their weight.

The latest study follows research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found people who drank diet beverages not only lost more weight but also were less likely to get cravings for desserts.
The National Weight Control Registry also found in 2009 that people who successfully maintained their weight loss drank three times more diet beverages than those who had never lost any weight.
However data from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, presented earlier this year, found that older healthier women, who drink two or more diet drinks a day have a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems. 
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