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“Diet Coke Is Healthier than Water!”

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This is according to a bizarre new Coca-Cola-funded study. Here we go again.

We’ve reported frequently on the subversion of science at the hands of industry, but this one takes the cake.

A new obesity study led by Prof. Peter Rogers, PhD, of the University of Bristol, arrives at the following conclusion: “Overall, the balance of evidence indicates that use of [low-energy sweeteners] in place of sugar, in children and adults, leads to reduced [energy intake]and [body weight], and possibly also when compared with water.” Translation: diet soda is better for controlling your weight than water!

Liar, liar, pants on fire. In point of fact, the aspartame in Diet Coke actually contributes to weight gain—particularly ironic for a “diet” product!

What’s even more interesting, but not surprising, is that the study was backed by Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The group behind the study, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), even has representatives of both beverage giants on its Eating Behaviour and Energy Balance Task Force.

The conflict of interest might explain why Prof. Rogers and the other authors selected the one paper (out of 5,500 that were reviewed) that supported the idea that diet soda was better than water at controlling weight and energy intake. That paper, by the way, was funded by the American Beverage Association.

If the term “energy balance” sounds familiar, it is because Coca-Cola was recently embarrassed when one of its executives was forced to step down after emails showed the company was behind an “independent” nonprofit group called the Global Energy Balance Network, a group that promoted the notion that lack of exercise, not bad diet, is primarily responsible for the obesity epidemic.

As we’ve reported previously, research not funded by beverage companies has found that artificial sweeteners contribute to diabetes and that diet sodas are linked to increased risk of stroke. Diet Coke has the following ingredients:

  • caramel color E150d, which contains carcinogens;
  • caffeine, which is fine in limited amounts but in higher amounts can increase blood pressure, reduce control of fine motor movements, increase cortisol secretion, cause anxiety, and accelerate bone loss in postmenopausal women;
  • phosphoric acid, which inhibits the body’s ability to use calcium, leading to osteoporosis; and
  • the artificial sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame-K. As noted in our article on artificial sweeteners, aspartame can turn to formaldehyde at high temperatures.

A study presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology found that women who drink diet sodas are much more likely develop heart disease and even die than other women. Women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day were 30% more likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular “event,” and were 50% more likely to die than women who rarely drink diet sodas.

Shame on those involved in this for thinking that their manufactured, aspartame-filled beverages can improve upon water—the essence of life!

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  • Alice Putt

    Study could be right if you live in Flint, Michigan. One place where soda is healthier than the water.

    • Truth59

      Not if people buy a water filter and a shower filter. Drinking kombucha is also way healthier than drinking soda as is Leaf and Love Lemonade (sweetened with stevia), certain bottled waters, raw and unpasteurized milk…

      • kenmarx49

        Where’s your sense of humor? C’mon, loosen up!

        • Truth59

          I know too many people who actually think Diet Coke is healthier than water.

      • BlueViolets

        You need a sense of humor but you are right about kombucha. Love the stuff. Don’t know about the lemonade as I tried Stevia and it has a bitter taste to me even though it is a natural type sweetener. Got good old well water that I filter and sure wish I could get raw milk near me.

        • Truth59

          The lemonade is available on Amazon. Some stevia is bitter but I don’t find Sweetleaf brand to be. They make powdered and liquid stevia (comes in amazing flavors like dark chocolate and English toffee which are really delicious).

  • Countrygirl1411

    Sadly I know people who will believe this make believe study.

  • The danger of aspartame is not that it turns into methanol at high temperatures, but rather that it turns into methanol in your brain. The methanol that is released in the gut is readily detoxified by the body before it gets into the brain. Many fermentation reactions by gut microbes produce low levels of methanol and formaldehyde on a semi-continuous basis. But aspartame is a methanol “Trojan horse” which bypasses gut defenses and allows methanol to be delivered to the deep tissues of the body, where defenses are less robust, and where the resulting methanol conversion into formaldehyde is more damaging.

    Too bad so many people get sucked into flimsy pseudoscientific reports from scientists with blatant conflicts of interest. The classic coping mechanism for people who know better is either to laugh uproariously, or to cry. Given the gullibility quotient, crying seems more appropriate.

  • Wendy Allen

    Diet soda…color may hurt and sweetener. Women may gain weight and may hurt their liver. They may not filter their water for the soda? Regular soda with GMO corn syrup may hurt. I did not feel well in Europe..wanted water, but there was none and drank soda for 3 weeks. Soda made me more thristy. I could not wait to get back to America to drink good water. This was many years ago, but America needs to stop pollution from going into the water.

    • Richids Coulter

      There was no water in Europe? That’s funny.

      • Wendy Allen

        They did not offer water at meals. They had tea/roll for breakfast. Heating the water maybe made the water clean enough. I only used it for my tooth brush and got very dehydrated. I did not like the taste of mineral water I bought a few times. I tried to drink soda, but it did not help my thirst.

  • AnnieLaurie Burke

    It IS appalling that the soda industry is behind so much “independent” research on diet and health. And I applaud ANH’s efforts in informing the public about the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners. But, I would ask ANH to please refrain from implying that there is significant formaldehyde formation with the consumption of aspartame. Many foods go through a similar chemical breakdown in the body. The formaldehyde produced by all is minimal and short-lived, and has been studied ad nauseam. Better to focus on the real hazards of artificial sweeteners and avoid the charge of non-scientific sensationalism.

  • kaunas8

    There needs to be some accountability when these university “scientists” produce such blatant junk “science” riddled with conflicts of interest.

  • Dust of the Earth

    I find it hard to believe that anybody would believe such nonsense. Diet soda healthier than water? I’d laugh at the “scientists” who claimed that, and I don’t make it a habit to laugh at people. It defies basic knowledge we were taught in childhood. We need water to live. But according to some other posters, there ARE people who believe it! Completely shocking. Maybe this is why dehydration is the most common nutrient deficiency among Americans.