TO: Lindsey Barr, Maroon News
FROM: Lyn Nabors, Calorie Control Council
RE: “Danger! Beware of Diet Soda”
DATE: December 8, 2005
The Calorie Control Council (the “Council”) is an international association representing the low-calorie and reduced-fat food and beverage industry. Companies that make and use low-calorie sweeteners are among the Council’s members. The Council is writing in regard to misinformation about diet soda, which appeared in an article entitled “Danger! Beware of Diet Soda” in the November 4, 2005 edition of the Maroon News.
The Council is concerned about the allegation that diet soft drinks increase the risk of obesity. The findings of the referenced study are also inconsistent with the majority of scientific research on this topic. There are several problems with the study including:
• This is an epidemiological study, which cannot show a direct cause and effect.
• Those who gain weight as they age may be more likely to use or switch to diet soft drinks
• The authors note that this study raises more questions than answers
• The study was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal
• Light products such as diet soft drinks are not a magic bullet for weight loss – but can be used as tools to control calories as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Human studies support the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners and light products in weight control. For example, Raben and colleagues found that using low-calorie sweeteners aided in the prevention of weight gain. Participants (a total of 41) followed a regular diet supplemented with food and drinks containing either sucrose or low-calorie sweeteners for two and a half months. The researchers found that participants consuming the sucrose sweetened foods and beverages had an increase in caloric energy, while those consuming the low-calorie sweetened foods and beverages showed a statistically significant decrease. Additionally, those in the sucrose group experienced an increase in weight while the low-calorie sweetener group experienced a decrease in weight.
Blackburn and his colleagues investigated whether the addition of aspartame to a multidisciplinary weight control program would improve weight loss and long-term control of body weight in obese women. One hundred sixty-eight obese women aged 20 to 60 years were studied over a two-year period. The researchers found that participation in this multidisciplinary weight control program including the use of aspartame-sweetened foods and beverages not only facilitated weight loss, but long-term maintenance of a reduced body weight.
It is well established that losing weight is the result of consuming fewer calories than expended. Health experts agree that weight loss is best achieved by a combination of reducing caloric intake and increasing exercise/activity but can be accomplished more slowly by a reduction in caloric intake or exercise alone. Weight management results from balancing food intake with energy expenditure.
We thank you for your consideration of these comments and hope that you will use the Council as a resource. For more information please visit www.caloriecontrol.org.
References:Blackburn, G. L., et. al. The effect of aspartame as part of a multidisciplinary weight-control program on short- and long-term control of body weight. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1997. Vol. 65. 409-418.
Raben, A., et. al. Sucrose Compared with Artificial Sweeteners: Different Effects on Ad LibitumFood Intake and Body Weight After 10 Weeks of Supplementation in Overweight Subjects.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. October 2002. Vol. 76. No. 4. 721-729.