Last year, the global beverage giant Coca-Cola rolled out an ad campaign encouraging people to unite in the fight against obesity.
I have two words for you: damage control.
That’s because there is overwhelming evidence stacking up linking the consumption of sugar-laden fizzy drinks to obesity and with consumers becoming much more aware of the negative health consequences of these beverages, it must’ve had an impact on sales.
I won’t drink to that…
Surprisingly, consumers and consumer advocates saw right through Coca Cola’s attempt to drum up trade and the company’s obesity ad campaign fell flat on its face.
But Coca-Cola was not going to take it lying down and almost instantly launched another ad campaign. This time the company tried to assure consumers that diet beverages containing the artificial sweetener aspartame are a safe alternative to regular fizzy drinks.
More recently, Big Food has taken it’s ridiculous propaganda machine to a whole new level by publishing a study that claims to confirm what companies like Coca Cola have been saying all along – drinking diet fizzy drinks will help you lose weight!
Let’s be clear from the start: This was an industry-funded trial, partly funded by the American Beverage Association, so the results are bound to be biased…
This small study divided 300 diet fizzy drinks consumers into two groups. One group continued drinking artificially sweetened beverages, while the other group cut out diet fizzy drinks entirely.
The results showed that the drinkers, combined with intensive training and coaching in behavioural change, lost an average of 13 pounds over 12 weeks, while the abstainers, who received the same training and coaching, lost only 9 pounds…
Lead researcher, Dr. Jim Hill, concluded that having access to artificially sweetened drinks helped the group to respond better to the behavioural change programme.
However, the study has one major flaw: it does not tell us what the fizzy drink abstainers were consuming. While water was suggested as the ideal beverage, we don’t know if they actually drank water. For all we know they could have replaced their fizzy drinks with fruit juices (also high in sugar) or cordials.
Purdue University researcher Susie Swithers has strongly criticized the results of this study, and said that it is “fatally flawed, and leaves us with little science to build on.” She added that this study gives absolutely no insight into the long-term health consequences of drinking diet fizzy drinks like the increased risk of heart problems and a disrupted metabolic response to real sugar, as shown by Susie Swithers’ own research at Purdue University.
The truth is that the growing awareness of the health dangers associated with fizzy drinks, both regular and diet, has pushed beverage sales into a freefall. Sales of carbonated beverages in general fell 3 per cent in 2013, while diet Coke and diet Pepsi both dropped by nearly 7 per cent.
Suffice to say, this industry funded study is supposed to be a knight in shining armour, rescuing the fizzy drinks industry from rapidly dwindling sales. Its aim is to create a media buzz with splashy headlines touting the words “science,” “study,” and “proven weight loss” to disguise the truth behind its findings.
Well, sorry guys, not on our watch. There are COUNTLESS real studies that have shown exactly how dangerous sugar-sweetened and aspartame-laden fizzy drinks are.
A case in point: Two years ago, researchers found that people who consumed diet fizzy drinks daily, were 43 per cent more likely to have suffered a vascular event, including a stroke. The link persisted even after other factors that could increase the risk of stroke were taken into account, such as smoking, physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, diabetes, heart disease, dietary factors, and more.
The researchers concluded: “This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death than regular soda.”
So no, we don’t buy the weight loss claims of diet fizzy drinks… not one single bit.
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USA Today January 14, 2013
Time Magazine March 31, 2014
Will Drinking Diet Soda Help You Lose Weight? Published online 15 08 14, fitness.mercola.com