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NewsBites December 2015 Issue

Diet Soda Drinkers Eat More Junk Calories

Do you want a candy bar with that diet soda? University of Illinois researchers report that people who drink diet beverages are more likely to allow themselves treats, sometimes referred to in technical terms as "discretionary foods." Such foods are typically high in calories, sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, and low in nutrients. "It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips," says lead researcher Ruopeng An, PhD. "Or perhaps in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods."

Researchers analyzed 10 years of data on more than 22,000 people from a national health and nutrition survey. They found that people who drank coffee and diet sodas consumed fewer calories daily than those choosing alcohol or sugared drinks. But coffee and diet soda drinkers obtained a higher percentage of daily calories from discretionary foods. The findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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