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Are Diet Sodas Making You Fat?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 17:28 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Diet Coke, hot fudge sundaeThat’s the headline of this article suggesting that beverages containing artificial sweeteners actually increase the weight of those who drink them.

Diet sodas: A sweet-tasting, calorie-free reprieve from the doldrums of boring diets? Apparently, not so much. Diet drinks, it turns out, might actually make you heavier, according to two new studies.

The studies reportedly show a correlation between consumption of artificially sweetened drinks and increase in waist circumference. As any decent statistician (or, indeed, anyone with a reasonably functional cerebrum) will tell you, correlation is not causation. But that fact seems to have been lost on the person or people who wrote this piece.

The article says that “researchers speculate that the artificial sweeteners warp appetite, leaving diet soda drinkers hungry for unhealthy treats.” I suppose that could be, but how about a simpler theory that makes perfectly good sense and can be readily tested? When someone drinks a diet soda, he or she might tend to think it’s OK to eat something high in calories in its place, even if what is eaten has more calories than a regular sugary soda. Either way, it isn’t the diet soda that makes the individual fat; it’s whatever else he or she eats. It’s like going to the McDonald’s drive-thru and buying a Big Mac value meal super-sized with a diet cola. You’d be better off with a Quarter Pounder, small fries, and a Dr Pepper.

So the question really isn’t, Do diet sodas make people fat? The question is, Is a complete lack of logic and critical thinking skills a prerequisite to being a journalist?

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Categories: health/safety, media
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