If you always opt for the diet option over its full-fat alternative, you are slashing the amount of sugar and calories you’re consuming.
But according to new research, guzzling light sodas like Diet Coke won’t stop you getting fat.
Ditching your favourite fizzy drink for its seemingly innocent sugar-free sister is no better for preventing weight gain – and it could also harm the environment.
Diet drinks seem like the healthier option for those wanting to slim down, but they’re still packed with artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners could also interfere with the bacteria in our gut, which may trigger diabetes.
Ultimately there’s no evidence to support claims that diet drinks are any better for our health, or that they prevent weight gain or aid weight loss.
“A common perception is because ‘diet’ drinks have no sugar, they must be healthier”
Professor Christopher Millett
Professor Christopher Millett, from Imperial College London, said: “A common perception, which may be influenced by industry marketing, is because ‘diet’ drinks have no sugar, they must be healthier and aid weight loss when used as a substitute for full sugar versions.
“However we found no solid evidence to support this.”
Lead researcher Josefin Lafvenborg, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said diet drinks may “stimulate the appetite” leading to weight gain.
That’s because diet drinks stimulate sweet taste receptors in the body and because people know they’re low in calories it may trigger them to overeat afterwards.
Study authors added that artificial sweeteners may cause chemical reactions within fat tissue and with bacteria in the gut.
This can lead to the body becoming less tolerant of glucose – a form of sugar – triggering type-2 diabetes.
Last year studies found drinking just two glasses of diet drinks a day more than doubled the risk of developing diabetes while having five or more sugar-free drinks a day increased the risk by 4.5 times.
Around 3.3million Brits have been diagnosed with diabetes and the majority have type-2, which is partly caused by obesity.
Responding, Gavin Partington, the director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: “Contrary to the claims made in this article scientific research shows that low-calorie sweeteners, such as those found in diet drinks, help consumers manage their weight as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
“At a time when we are trying to encourage people to reduce their overall calorie intake it is extremely unhelpful that products which contain no sugar, let alone calories, are demonised without evidence.
“It’s worth bearing in mind that the UK soft drinks sector is the only category in which sugar intake is consistently falling year on year – over 17% since 2012.”