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Why Diet Sodas Are No Benefit to Dieters
July 1, 2011 12:23 PM   Subscribe


 
Studies show that people who diet tend to have larger waist circumferences. Film at 11.
posted by mullingitover at 12:25 PM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've been drinking diet soda for as long as I can remember. My waist is larger than it was. Also my skin is wrinklier and my hair grayer. I'm no scientist but I think I can attribute all of that to getting older.
posted by tommasz at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


Time Magazine creating boneheaded articles causes American IQ to drop. Or is it Americans with low IQ's read Time Magazine's boneheaded articles causing the creation of more Time Magazine boneheaded articles. Shit. I'm confused now.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:29 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


To the person who is, right now, typing out the old "lol diet soda drinkers think they can eat whatever hurf durf": I will find you and I will hurt you.

Much like my diet soda consumption, my threats are also prophylactic.
posted by griphus at 12:31 PM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hate diet drinks. I never drink them. My waist is much larger than it was 20 years ago. Not drinking diet drinks might have caused this.
posted by Postroad at 12:32 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Um. Larger than non-soda-drinkers or sugary-soda-drinkers?
posted by eugenen at 12:33 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been drinking diet soda for over a decade, like as in ~2 liters per day. My waist size has went from a 38 to a 32 and has leveled off there for about a year. I have not cut back my diet soda intake (though with the plethora of articles and various threads about it, I am seriously considering it for other health reasons). Coincidentally enough, I started walking, biking, and eating things other than McDonald's about a year ago as well.

disclaimer: I am being slightly defensive about this, because dammit I LIKE my diet soda and I don't WANNA stop! *stomps feet*
posted by Debaser626 at 12:33 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't know about the science, but I do know that diet soda tastes fucking terrible. People should have the horse sense not to imbibe what is so obviously poison.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:34 PM on July 1, 2011 [18 favorites]


My ex hated regular soft drinks (said he got headaches). It was too much of a hassle to buy both kinds so I switched to diet. Now I think "regular" sodas taste funny & make my teeth feel fuzzy.
posted by pointystick at 12:35 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think the anti-diet soda drinker contingent is so much laughing at imaginary people who think you can eat a big mac, large fries and diet coke to even things out. It's more about disliking the idea that anyone can get something for nothing, that you can't possibly taste something sweet without having to pay for it later, goddammit. That's why there's so frequently an insistence that it must cause something bad to happen; cancer, weight gain, increased hunger, etc.
posted by skewed at 12:35 PM on July 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


When I stopped drinking one or two sugar sodas a day, I dropped ten pounds in about two weeks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is diet iced tea still safe?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2011


In the wise words of Paris Hilton, 'Diet Coke is for fat people.'
posted by Mocata at 12:37 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


In other news... if you have a "Soda Diet" you will lose significant weight, as in all of it, within 3-4 weeks.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:39 PM on July 1, 2011


It said this was a longitudinal study. If they were measuring waistlines, shouldn't it have been a latitudinal study?
posted by MtDewd at 12:41 PM on July 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


Between these studies that show glucose response to aspartame and the one that showed that olestra-fed rats gained more than the normal potato chips-eating rats, it would seem that, hey, our bodies get confused by fake stuff. Too much fat, sugar, or fake fat/sugar are all bad for us. And people are surprised?

Somehow eating real food, and not too much of it, sounds better all the time. Now if I could just work on the "not too much of it" part...
posted by ldthomps at 12:43 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


The people I see in the store buying diet soda, Slimfast, et cetera are also buying a whole lot of processed imitation food.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:48 PM on July 1, 2011



I don't know about the science, but I do know that diet soda tastes fucking terrible. People should have the horse sense not to imbibe what is so obviously poison.


This. Never mind the health impacts -- how can people stand the taste? My actual guess is that it is like cilantro, which tastes great to me but to some people tastes bad. Some difference in how our taste buds are wired, maybe.
posted by Forktine at 12:48 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the taste of diet soda, and it's pretty much the only fake food I eat/drink on a regular basis. I'm not giving it up! (/petulant)
posted by gaspode at 12:51 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Few things I wanted to throw into this discussion:

-Context is important, along with being able to spot dumb studies.
-The majority of research claiming that aspartame will make you fat and/or increase risk of cancer are done on animals with such concentrated high doses that you would need an IV drip hooked up to you to reach similar levels.
-Usually, too much of anything is bad.

And, yeah, I'm seeing a pattern here:

Animal fat makes you fat
Fructose makes you fat
Diet soda/aspartame makes you fat

Seems like it's everything except eating too damn much.
posted by Evernix at 12:55 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm no scientist but I think I can attribute all of that to getting older.

Yes, I'm pretty sure there's a trend toward greater waist circumference over time in humans who draw breath. Well, for a while. Then there's a trend of increasing decomposition in humans who don't.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:58 PM on July 1, 2011


Mmmmm Coke Zero.

that is all.
posted by zeoslap at 1:07 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


...diet soda tastes fucking terrible.

You aren't kidding. I have no idea why people wouldn't just buy a SodaStream and drop a slice of citrus in it. It tastes better and has fewer calories. But I personally know a lot of people who drink diet soda, then eat a 2,000 calorie fast food meal.
posted by Hylas at 1:09 PM on July 1, 2011


Attention: Taste is subjective.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:12 PM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


But I personally know a lot of people who drink diet soda, then eat a 2,000 calorie fast food meal.

So? What does this prove? Do they drink their diet soda and then dance around talking about how healthy they are for drinking diet soda? Or claiming that the diet soda will undo the calories of the meal? Seems unlikely. People drink diet soda for a whole bunch of reasons, including that many people prefer the taste (I don't, but whatever). Even if they are doing it for health reasons, good for them. They might be making a bad choice (the 2000 calorie meal), but they are making a better choice(diet versus regular soda). I'm not usually all over the anti-fat shaming bandwagon, but fuck people who make fun of people like this. They're trying.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:13 PM on July 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


A waist is a terrible thing to mind.
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:14 PM on July 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


Once they found taste receptors for sweet in the gut I was suspicious of the effect of diet soda on insulin levels. As a Type I diabetic (can't produce insulin) I wonder if I can still get away with drinking it or if there's some other thing that'll screw me up beyond the caffeine induced blood sugar spike. Come to think of it, maybe I'm assuming the caffeine is the cause of the blood sugar spike and it's actually the artificial sweetener. I'll have to try some diet 7-up w/o insulin and see what happens.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:23 PM on July 1, 2011


Soda is evil and so, so good at what it does. When you're first exposed to it, unless you're protected in some way, you'll probably develop a taste for it. In a lot of people, this becomes a serious habit. Soda causes a host of known problems, and the non-soda things that people drink to try to satisfy their soda habits likely also cause problems.

If you have a soda habit, then you would simply be better off if you had never encountered soda.

I'm going to get proactive, with my daughter. First few times we give her a soda, it comes with an emetic mickey finn.
posted by gurple at 1:24 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has it occurred to anyone that people who do not have a weight problem may not see a need to have a diet beverage??? In other words, selfselection.

Meanwhile, I love diet Coke and would drink it even if I were skinny. For the record, cilantro is nasty.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:27 PM on July 1, 2011


The problem is everyone wants some kind of miracle substitute for the nastiest shit that they for some reason ENJOY pouring into their bodies. Just eat clean and your taste buds and body will love you for it.
I know escaping from sugar makes you seem like the biggest weirdo in your group of friends but while they are for they rest of their lives trying to "just lose that last 10lbs" you'll be fucking shit up.

Disclaimer: Above statement does not apply to pizza and beer. These are good and should be consumed hourly.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:30 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I switched to diet soda several years ago. I don't drink a lot of it. Maybe a can every other day.

The 30 extra pounds I'm carrying around are from not exercising enough and eating too much. It's not the damn soda.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:31 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has it occurred to anyone that people who do not have a weight problem may not see a need to have a diet beverage???

Oh noes! Science is impossible!

Oh. Wait:

The results were adjusted for waist circumference, diabetes status, leisure-time physical activity level, neighborhood of residence, age and smoking status at the beginning of each interval, as well as sex, ethnicity and years of education.
posted by gurple at 1:33 PM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Beer it is, then.
posted by queensissy at 1:33 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am 52 years old. My waist size is just one inch greater than it was when I was 24, and if I have a good couple of weeks at the gym I can get it down to being the same. I do not drink soda of any kind, but I do drink a shedload of booze. I think the conclusion is clear.
posted by Decani at 1:47 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


That Dr Lustig (the "sugar is a toxin" guy) was on NPR and mentioned that zero calorie sweeteners were also bad for the metabolism, but the reasons why aren't fully understood yet. He said the right option is to cut down all sweeteners, calorific or not.

I would speculate that sweetness itself is a trigger that makes the body expect a big energy input spike, so it switches to a mode where it stores more input calories as fat. A diet soda taken with a meal would make you store more of the meal calories as fat, both giving you weight gain and leaving you hungrier.
posted by w0mbat at 1:56 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I personally know a lot of people who drink diet soda, then eat a 2,000 calorie fast food meal.


I can't understand why people bring this up all the time either. If someone has a 32 oz diet soda with a 2,000 calorie meal, they've had 2,000 calories. If they have a 32 oz regular soda, they've had 2,310 calories. Yeah, maybe they shouldn't have eaten all that fast food, but they're still saving calories. It's not healthy, but it's not like it doesn't have some sense to it. Plus, even if you're used to eating badly, if you're used to having a lot of diet soda, regular soda can be a bit heavy and sugary to take.
posted by sweetkid at 1:59 PM on July 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


w0mbat: "That Dr Lustig (the "sugar is a toxin" guy)"

More like Dr. Blöd, am I right?
posted by dunkadunc at 2:15 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've actually noticed something like this, anecdotally. It's probably just aging or some such thing, but I've noticed it with younger people, too.

I have a theory about it: Diet soda drinkers are dedicated soda drinkers. Non-diet soda drinkers are not. In order to drink enough soda to learn to like the taste of diet, you've gotta drink a whole lot of soda to begin with.

Think about. I'm sorry, but diet soda tastes like crap. I mean, maybe if you just really love the taste of artificial sweetener or something, but most people I know who drink diet soda started out drinking regular soda, switched to diet, and then grew to love it. They drink 2 liters of soda per day. They don't think it's OK because it's diet, but diet might be a little better than regular, and they're soda drinkers anyway. If it weren't for diet, they'd probably be drinking regular.

Whereas, if you don't drink soda very much, if you're gonna have some soda, you might as well have some real friggin' soda. Diet soda drinkers are fatter because they're more likely to be soda drinkers, period.
posted by breakin' the law at 2:17 PM on July 1, 2011


I don't know about the science, but I do know that diet soda tastes fucking terrible. People should have the horse sense not to imbibe what is so obviously poison.

I used to hate diet soda, then I realized I was drinking too much sugary soda and I forced myself to make the switch. It actually wasn't hard (took a week or two), and now I love diet soda. I mean I LOVE THAT SHIT. It's delicious. I know a lot of folks who agree with me and plenty who don't, just like every single consumable thing on the planet.

Also, I recently lost 40 pounds - went from 200 to 160 in a few months. Diet soda was a huge help. It allowed me to fill myself up with sugary sweetness without any of the calories.

I'm gradually drinking less because I've never had any illusions that diet soda is healthy. But shit, people aren't just forcing poison down their throats for no reason.
posted by ORthey at 2:18 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the record, cilantro is nasty.

Oooh she went there! I agree with you about Diet Coke though.
posted by Mister_A at 2:19 PM on July 1, 2011


Think about it...why is there no edit button?
posted by breakin' the law at 2:20 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thinking about this more and wondering if I am atypical for a "diet soda drinker":
I like diet soda okay. Most of the time (as I wrote upthread) I dislike the way sugary drinks feel in my mouth hence the diet soda. I don't drink much of it though, usually one at lunch, and I'm thinking about why. I think that is because, for me, soda is not a thing in itself, but it is a cold caffeine delivery system that is sometimes cheaper or more readily available or more reliable than iced tea or coffee.


Does fizzy water count as diet soda if so, I'm guilty of drinking a good bit of it. Especially Pelligrino. Nom.
posted by pointystick at 2:30 PM on July 1, 2011


just regular Pellegrino, not flavored? No, that has nothing in it. It's just carbonated water.
posted by sweetkid at 2:41 PM on July 1, 2011


What about flavored? And Limonatas.
posted by msalt at 2:52 PM on July 1, 2011


I can't understand why people bring this up all the time either. If someone has a 32 oz diet soda with a 2,000 calorie meal, they've had 2,000 calories. If they have a 32 oz regular soda, they've had 2,310 calories. Yeah, maybe they shouldn't have eaten all that fast food, but they're still saving calories.

Well, maybe. Or maybe because they know it's a diet soda that "saves calories," they order more food than they would have otherwise, causing a net caloric gain. Or maybe because of some strange metabolic thing with the fake sugar, they process those calories differently and pack on more pounds. I don't think the answers to this are at all fully known at this point, and I wish people on both sides of the issue would be a bit slower to make such strong pronouncements.
posted by Forktine at 2:56 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


My waist has gotten larger since I started drinking diet soda, but I think that has more to do w/ me constantly drinking booze.
posted by broken wheelchair at 3:24 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish people on both sides of the issue would be a bit slower to make such strong pronouncements.

Right, because this is about people on "both sides of the issue" and not about one group of people saying "haha look at those fatties with their Diet Cokes and Big Macs" and other people responding to that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:36 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Forktine: Never mind the health impacts -- how can people stand the taste?

It's a matter of what you're used to. My dad is diabetic, so I grew up on diet soda. The biggest difference is the mouthfeel, which has to do with the viscosity of the drink.

Dt Soda tastes like soda to me. Regular soda tastes like sweetened diluted snot.
posted by Decimask at 3:38 PM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Soda is an issue because it seems these strawmen sure drink a lot of it.

But then again, so would you if you were made from straws.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:48 PM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I can see why french fries were top of the list. Eating them implies that one is in a fast food joint to begin with because they usually require a deep fat fryer, and then they walk past the endless soda fountain before and after the meal.
posted by Brian B. at 4:08 PM on July 1, 2011


sweetkid yeah, it is but I have still had people try to tell me carbonation is bad for you. But I'm pretty sure among my vices, fizzy water is way down there on the list.
posted by pointystick at 4:15 PM on July 1, 2011


I like diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
posted by tzikeh at 4:44 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seems like it's everything except eating too damn much.

The recent nutrition consensus information suggests that calorie count is a major factor in weight gain, but not the only factor. It's also important how those calories are processed by your body. (And let's not forget water weight).
posted by outlandishmarxist at 4:54 PM on July 1, 2011


I don't like the mouth-feel of sweetened soda - I don't like sugary drinks at all, actually, including hot coffee, which I drink black - and I happen to be one of those people for whom diet sodas taste pretty good (and not terribly sweet).

Anyway, my grandmother called all soda "bellywash," which is about right.
posted by Peach at 5:23 PM on July 1, 2011


Fresca is awesome. Also diet ginger ale, Sprite Zero and the occasional Diet Coke if caffeine-low at lunchtime. As a type 2 diabetic who eats v. healthy I've found that 1 or 2 a day doesn't measurably add to AM glucose. (I'm sure they increase your ability to eat 1 million carbs is what I am thinking. Also we're all gremlins so no food after dark helps).
posted by klapaucius at 5:45 PM on July 1, 2011


no pepblu
posted by klapaucius at 5:48 PM on July 1, 2011


Funny thing one: the healthy eating study's name is SALSA.

Funny thing two: it's a "longitudinal" study of abdominal circumference.

Funny thing three: product placement.

As for the study itself, I imagine there are just innumerable invisible variables here. I think people tend to drink diet soda as a counterweight to a less-healthy lifestyle. It is indeed lower calories, so there's that. But it almost certainly provides a false sense of eating right. I mean, I know it does for me.

Also the comparison was between diet soda "users" and "non-users." I suspect that if the non-users drank the same amount of regular soda per day as the users, this study would have a different outcome.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:08 PM on July 1, 2011


Here's my completely crackpot observation: If I go into a convenience store to buy a thing, I am likely to buy more than one thing. Whereas if I just avoid convenience stores entirely and pay for my gas at the pump, then I don't have to worry AT ALL about soda, Slim Jims, hotdogs, potato chips, Swedish fish, peanut M&Ms, or Little Debbie jelly roll cakes.

Diet soda may or may not be problematic, but many of the places you have to visit to procure one (fastfood or greasy spoon joint, vending machine, pop-n-chips aisle) are rife with nutritional turpitude.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:22 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does this study explain why diet soda drinkers are so weirdly passionate about diet soda?
posted by fuq at 6:58 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies wrote: Meanwhile, I love diet Coke and would drink it even if I were skinny. For the record, cilantro is nasty.

I would rather drink my own urine than drink Diet Coke. That stuff is naaasty. Not that HFCS Coke is all that great, either, but it's a damn sight better than any diet drink. Diet Dr. Pepper is tolerable until the sip is complete, and then it turns nasty.
posted by wierdo at 7:02 PM on July 1, 2011


I would rather drink my own urine than drink Diet Coke.

posted by wierdo at 3:02 AM on July 2


FTFM
posted by Decani at 7:17 PM on July 1, 2011


As a child I couldn't think of many things worse than drinking diet soda.
posted by furtive at 7:53 PM on July 1, 2011


Forktine: "Or maybe because they know it's a diet soda that "saves calories," they order more food than they would have otherwise, causing a net caloric gain."

Interesting study along those lines.
posted by galadriel at 8:06 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a child I couldn't think of many things worse than drinking diet soda.

I wasn't crazy about broccoli.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:27 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm only an occasional soda drinker, but I still prefer the taste of diet coke. I tend to go for bitter over sweet in general, but I don't discount that it's somehow more habit forming than regular soda. I can think about drinking a diet coke and my mouth will water - full on Pavlov's dog for that stuff. I don't drink it for the diet properties though, and I do occasionally prefer sugared sodas for things like ginger ale and fruity flavors.
posted by bizzyb at 9:16 PM on July 1, 2011


*Ring ring*
Employee: Hi, thank you for calling ___, can I take your order?

Customer: Hi I'd like 2 large meat lovers pizzas, an order of breadsticks, an order of wings with extra ranch, and some poppers.

E: No problem. Can I interest you in something to wash that down?

C: Oh yeah, and a two litre of Coke.

E: Sounds good, see you in 20 minutes.

C: Oh wait, can you make that Diet Coke? I'm trying to cut down on the calories.

E: Facepalm.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 9:26 PM on July 1, 2011


If they have a 32 oz regular soda, they've had 2,310 calories

wait, what? what kind of POP are you drinking? I just checked my 32oz. bottle of Pepsi and it's only 450 calories.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 9:34 PM on July 1, 2011


I worked a fast food job during high school, and I used to mock people who would come up and order a huge greasy fried meal and end their order with, "and a small Diet Coke, please."

Then I graduated, got an office job, met a diabetic and became close friends, and eventually switched from regular soda to diet soda as a result of spending a lot of time with someone who only drank diet when she drank soda.

Now regular soda feels thick and clingy in my mouth, and it's cloyingly sweet. I order diet soda whenever I go out to eat and I don't feel like having alcohol or just ice water, and I assume because I'm fat and I sometimes have the audacity to let myself eat more than a garden salad in public that I'm probably the object of some lunkhead's ridicule. Hurf durf, look at the fatty having a burger and a diet soda! Har har, she thinks that's going to keep her from getting fat!

Kind of a bummer to see that kind of thing here, from grown-ass people.
posted by palomar at 9:45 PM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]



>>If they have a 32 oz regular soda, they've had 2,310 calories

>wait, what? what kind of POP are you drinking? I just checked my 32oz. bottle of Pepsi and it's only 450 calories.


Go back and reread the rest of that comment. The 310 calories are the additional calories from the soda on top of a 2000 calorie meal, in the theoretical example given by that person.
posted by Forktine at 9:52 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny how so many people have psilocybin mushrooms for breakfast here and would not only legalise weed but more or less make it compulsory but a Pepsi Max or a Diet Coke is seen as the jism of the devil.
posted by joannemullen at 10:07 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is diet iced tea still safe?

Only if you like gangrene.*

*not verified
posted by krinklyfig at 11:26 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still want to know what it is about diet soda that makes me want to puke. Even if I don't know it's diet or it doesn't taste diet. ICK.

Oh, same with sugar free gum. You try finding gum without fake sweeteners when you're quitting smoking!

Same reason I quite drinking sweet iced tea when I was 12. On a diet, couldn't stand the fake sweeteners, switched to unsweet tea for life. Go tea!
posted by threeturtles at 11:26 PM on July 1, 2011


threeturtles, do you notice any difference in the taste of the various sweeteners? Or do they all have the same universal taste? I ask because I'm a dedicated Diet Coke drinker and I like the taste, but drinks like Diet Rite taste horrifying to me and I think it's the sucralose -- I tried Splenda in iced tea once and wanted to die. Never again, thank you. But aspartame-based things don't bother me nearly as much -- I can use Sweet and Low in iced tea if I have to, but all the other sweeteners in packets are nasty as hell. (Sugar is preferred over those, though. I mean, duh.)
posted by palomar at 11:51 PM on July 1, 2011


I reckon diet soda tastes like robot piss.

I do, however, like bubbles, so I am a big fan of soda water. With a half teaspoon of pharmaceutical-grade ascorbic acid powder, when I'm feeling frisky.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:14 AM on July 2, 2011


Whenever I visit the US and, for that matter, when I lived there, it always struck me that Americans consume soda, Snapples, etc. like almost every other country in the world consumes water. I've never fizzy drinks drunk in this quantity anywhere else - and that includes the obvious culprits like the UK and Australia. Whether they're full fat - or diet - this just cannot be good for you. It also seems a bit strange. I cannot imagine actually wanting to drink more than one soda a week. Still, I suppose I do drink a lot of tea and coffee - so maybe I just chose something slightly better for me to get hooked on.
posted by rhymer at 1:08 AM on July 2, 2011


I usually order diet drinks with fast food, and get mocked for doing so, so here are the numbers again:

McDonalds calories.
Big Mac: 490kcal
Large fries: 460kcal
Medium fries: 330kcal
Large regular coke: 210kcal
Medium regular coke: 170kcal
Large diet coke: 5kcal
Medium diet coke: 4kcal

McDonalds large Big Mac Meal with regular coke: 1160kcal
McDonalds large Big Mac Meal with diet coke: 955kcal

McDonalds Medium Big Mac Meal with regular coke: 990kcal
McDonalds Medium Big Mac Meal with diet coke: 824kcal

So, ordering diet coke reduces the total calories of a Medium-sized meal by 17%, a Large meal by 18%. It's a significant difference.

I also get a bit fed up with vague statements like "X is a major factor but not the only factor", because while they're trivially true, they don't actually tell us how significant the other factors are.

E.g. "Smoking cigarettes is a major factor in lung cancer, but not the only factor". True. But how big are these other factors? How easy are they to control? Are they big enough that you can offset the effects of smoking cigarettes?

It's a nice reassuring mantra for the guy smoking forty Marboro Red a day. And it's a nice debating tactic if you want to defend smoking, because you're neatly deflecting the burden of proof onto the other side, who somehow now have to analyse the statistical risk of thousands of other potential causes, all of which are likely to be tiny in comparison with the very very big cause.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:51 AM on July 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I came to the conclusion that americans should adopt Apfelschorle, probably one of the main reasons I'm not obese yet...
posted by ts;dr at 2:43 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I visit the US and, for that matter, when I lived there, it always struck me that Americans consume soda, Snapples, etc. like almost every other country in the world consumes water. I've never fizzy drinks drunk in this quantity anywhere else - and that includes the obvious culprits like the UK and Australia.

Here is a graph comparing soft drink consumption in what looks like a list of OECD countries. If the numbers are accurate, US consumption is more than twice Australia's, for example. The list leaves out a lot of countries, though; my understanding is that Mexico's per capita soft drink consumption rivals the US's, so the US doesn't need to feel totally lonely up at the top of the chart.

I also wonder how that would break down into diet/non-diet soda consumption by country, and how much non-carbonated sweetened drinks (including hot and iced tea, sports drinks, "juices," etc) play into consumption.
posted by Forktine at 4:59 AM on July 2, 2011


I love diet Coke, as I have said numerous times, but diet Pepsi and the other diet sodas just do not appeal to me. Formulations matter, I guess.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:46 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Crackpot theory #2: Whatever soda sweetener you happen to be used to helps make all other sweeteners in pop taste fucking gross. I'm so habituated to honey (in tea) and HFCS that even cane sugar tastes vaguely "artificial" and metallic, though not to the huge extent of saccharine, Nutrasweet, Splenda, or whatever the hell they're putting in diet drinks nowadays.

[Obligatory moment of cyclamate nostalgia.]

Man, when I wean myself away from sugary drinks and just have lightly honeyed tea or water with a little splash of juice in it and also stop the highly "seasoned" (i.e., salted like a goddamn deer lick) restaurant foods -- and then taste the bad stuff again a few months later, I practically choke to death on the flavoring.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:36 AM on July 2, 2011


I love love love my diet Dr. Pepper. But it's the other vices, with, um, calories, that make me fatter than I want to to be. The diet Dr. Pepper just eats out the lining of my stomach, feeds the caffeine addiction, and probably causes cancer also.
posted by Cocodrillo at 11:52 AM on July 2, 2011


Diet soda gives me headaches, so I never drink it. My waist went from 36" to 31" in the past two years. I'm sure the exercising every day had absolutely nothing to do with it. Nope, it's all genetics.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:39 PM on July 2, 2011


Yeah I never understood people who just slam people who try and watch their weight, but who also at other times eating fattening foods. I knew a girl who had a perfect body without ever trying and could lose 5 lbs by just eating salad and coffee for a day and a half. She would always like to point out how she saw me always eating my salads and having my skim lattes, but she saw me at McDonalds now and then or having a piece of cake. I wasn't always so good was I?!?

It's like why do you think I always need to be so careful with what I eat? Because I have to make up for the times I go out to dinner or drink or have to many cookies. If I never overate, sure I could have all the damn regular soda I like. It's like money. You save so that sometimes you can splurge.
posted by whoaali at 2:41 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


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