SOURCE: UltraWellness

April 03, 2008 15:21 ET

Is Diet Soda Making You Fat?

Dr. Mark Hyman of UltraWellness Explores the Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Obesity

LENOX, MA--(Marketwire - April 3, 2008) - That "diet" soda you are drinking could actually be "weight gain" soda. A new study in the Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience has conclusively shown that using artificial sweeteners does not prevent weight gain and actually induces a whole set of physiologic and hormonal responses that make you gain weight.

The study compared two different groups of rats; one group was given yogurt sweetened with sugar, the other, yogurt sweetened with saccharin. The researchers found the total amount of food eaten dramatically increased in the artificial sweetener group -- meaning that the artificial sweetener stimulated their appetite. After 14 days the saccharin rats had gained weight, their body fat increased significantly, and their metabolism slowed down.

"The number of Americans who consume products that contain artificial sweeteners has grown from 70 million in 1987 to 160 million in 2000, and at the same time, the number of overweight Americans has increased from 30 percent to over 65 percent of the population," said Mark Hyman, M.D. of UltraWellness. "These findings turn the conventional view that people will consume fewer calories by drinking artificially sweetened drinks, diet soda, or foods on its head."

Any sweet taste will signal your body that calories are on the way and trigger hormonal and metabolic responses (i.e. hunger). When you consume non-nutritive or non-caloric sweeteners, like aspartame or saccharin, you are tricking your body and you will feel hungrier and eat more.

"Stop confusing your body. If you have a desire for something sweet, have a little sugar, but stay away from 'fake' foods," said Hyman. "Avoid artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose, sugar alcohols such as malitol and xylitol (pretty much anything that ends in 'ol'), as well as natural artificial sweeteners like stevia. Eating a whole-foods diet that has a low glycemic load and is rich in phytonutrients and indulging in a few real sweet treats once in a while is a better alternative."

For more information on avoiding "fake" foods and eating the UltraWellness way, visit The UltraWellness Blog (


Swithers SE, Davidson TL. A role for sweet taste: Calorie predictive relations in energy regulation by rats. Behav Neurosci. 2008 Feb; 122(1):161-73.

About UltraWellness: UltraWellness -- lifelong health and vitality -- is based on the emerging field of functional medicine, which addresses health problems not by treating the symptoms, but by balancing the 7 core underlying biological processes that govern health. This is done by finding imbalances, getting rid of the things that cause those imbalances, and providing the necessary things to restore balance, which then allows the body's natural intelligence to facilitate healing and take care of the rest. Co-founder of UltraWellness, Mark Hyman, M.D., is a respected medical consultant, New York Times bestselling author, lecturer, practicing physician and leader in the emerging field of functional medicine.

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