Could Diet Drinks Trigger Sugar Seeking?
Sugar-free sweet drinks might seem like a win-win, but scientists are still figuring out how the body responds to them. Recently, 21 healthy-weight young adults were fed a standardized lunch along with either 12 ounces of a sugar-sweetened beverage or one with the artificial sweetener sucralose, made to look and taste the same. A week later they repeated the experiment but with the other beverage. Four hours after lunch they were invited to play two computer games to earn sweet or salty/savory snacks. They could play both games as much as desired and eat the snacks in the room but couldn’t take them home.
Compared to the sugary beverage, when people had the artificially sweetened drink at lunch, they worked harder to earn sweet snacks (candy, cookies) than salty/savory snacks (chips, crackers), although they didn’t actually eat more of them. This is the first study to show that drinking an artificially-sweetened beverage may increase desire for sweet snacks compared to salty/savory snacks later in the day. More research is needed, but a sure winner to quench thirst is water. The study is in the journal Appetite.
To Learn More: Appetite, May 2017