The Pros & Cons of Diet Drinks

Diet drinks remain a popular choice for many people because they appear healthier than drinks made with sugar. While diet drinks do hold health benefits, you can also associate some negatives with these products. Learn about the pros and cons of diet drinks, so that you can make an educated decision the next time someone offers you one on a hot summer's day.

Two tall glasses of diet soda. Credit: furo_felix/iStock/Getty Images

Pro: Low in Calories

People purchase diet drinks because of their low caloric values. According to Dartmouth University, the artificial sweeteners used in these drinks contain 600 times more sweetness than natural sugar. This allows manufacturers to use the sweetener in smaller portions, so the drink will taste just as sweet as the original, without the additional calories.

Pro: Short-term Weight Loss

Harvard University reports that switching from regular soft drinks to diet drinks can cause an immediate decrease in the number of calories that you put in your body each day. Keep in mind, however, that long-term studies on this subject remain inconclusive.

Con: May Cause Long-term Weight Gain

Despite the fact that many diet drinks do not contain any calories, some studies suggest that they can actually lead to weight gain. Harvard University suggests that human beings have an innate ability to tell how many calories they put into their bodies based on how something tastes. Since diet drinks taste like they contain calories, but in fact do not, it throws the body's ability off, which leads to people consuming more calories in their daily lives through other foods.

Con: Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Some studies have shown that those who consume diet drinks throughout their lives show signs of metabolic syndrome. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, some of these individuals experienced symptoms such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, lower than normal levels of HDL cholesterol and larger waste sizes. While you cannot draw a conclusion from this information without further research, the presence of these symptoms suggests a danger to diet drinks.

Con: Cancer-causing Properties

Since the invention of diet drinks, manufacturers have used numerous sugar substitutes. Dartmouth College reports that manufacturers have used saccharin, cyclamate and aspartame at various times, despite the presence of cancer-causing agents. Newer forms of artificial sweetener still require additional testing before we can eliminate any worries about cancer-causing properties.

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