People are drinking fewer diet drinks these days, and a panel of health experts agrees that’s a good idea.
A science advisory from the American Heart Association published Monday in the journal Circulation counsels against regular and long-term consumption of diet beverages, particularly in children. Instead, the group of leading nutritionists, doctors and researchers urged people to replace sugary and diet drinks with plain, carbonated or unsweetened flavored water.
The committee spent two years combing through dozens of studies – some of which brought up associations between low-calorie sweetened drinks and weight gain, dementia, stroke and other health problems – and concluded that the science was still too fuzzy to draw hard-and-fast conclusions about the health effects of diet drinks.
“There’s not a huge body of literature, either observational or clinical trials,” said the writing group’s chair, Rachel K. Johnson, a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Vermont. “Based on the evidence available at this time, this is the best advice we have.”
The advisory acknowledges the reality that many people might use diet drinks to wean off sugar-loaded drinks if they feel they can’t make the wholesale leap to water. “This approach may be particularly helpful for individuals who are habituated to a sweet-tasting beverage and for whom water, at least initially, is not a desirable option,” the report said.
Encouragingly, the writers pointed to federal data based on self-reported surveys showing adults and young people already are drinking less of both sugary and diet drinks.
The full story can be accessed here.
Want to stay up to date on sugary drink news? Click here to visit our toolkit and to sign up for the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Team!