Diet drinks DON'T make you hungry: New research quashes myth they cause junk food cravings Previously thought that artificial sweeteners disrupt hunger hormones, encouraging people to eat junk foodBut new study has shown that drinking diet drinks has no more effect on appetite than water

Rachel Reilly


11:53 GMT, 20 February 2013



11:55 GMT, 20 February 2013

Diet drinks will not affect appetite

Diet drinks will not affect appetite

Sugar-free fizzy drinks are no more likely to make you eat junk food than water, say researchers.

Previously, a number of studies have claimed that artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks wreak havoc with our hormones, causing us to feel hungry and crave sweet and fatty foods.

It was thought that artificial sweeteners, due to their intense sweetness, disrupted hunger hormones and encouraged people to eat sweet food.

But new research from the University of North Carolina suggests this may not be the case after all.

'Our study does not provide evidence to suggest that consumption of diet drinks increases a person's preference for sweet foods and beverages,' said lead researcher Carmen Piernas.

The study followed 318 overweight and obese adults, all of whom drank at least 280 calories worth of drinks each day

One third of the participants substituted two daily servings of sugary drinks with water and another third substituted with diet drinks, including Diet Coke.

After six months, the participants reported their food and drink intake over that period.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that water and diet fizzy drinkers reduced their average daily calorie intake at the start of the study from between 2,000 and 2,300 calories to 1,500 to 1,800 calories.

Six months in, the only differences were that those who drank water ate more fruit and vegetables and those who drank diet fizzy drinks ate fewer desserts, compared to beginning of the study.

'That's the opposite of what you would expect if consumption of diet drinks increased the preference for sweet food,' said Vasanti Malik, a nutrition researcher from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Although this will be good news to those regularly enjoy a diet drink, there are a number of other studies suggesting that they are bad for your health in other ways.

Cake cravings: A study has shown that diet drinks are not responsible for hunger pangs

The study found that diet drinks are not responsible for hunger pangs

A recent French study, which appeared in the same journal, found that women who drank beverages sweetened with either sugar or artificial sweeteners were up to 60 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those who stuck to water.

Last year, a study carried out by Osaka University in Japan found that drinking just one fizzy drink a day could increase a woman's risk of suffering a stroke by 80 per cent.

And research carried out by a Lund University in Sweden has also demonstrated that a single fizzy drink each day could increase a man's risk of developing prostate cancer by 40 per cent.

However Ms Malik says there is no need for alarm over recent findings related to artificial sweetened drinks.

'I think diet drinks can be consumed in moderation, along with other beverages – water, coconut water and sparkling water, for example,' she told Reuters Health.