Is the Term “Diet” in Diet Soda a Lie?

Is Diet Soda a Fraud?

April 20, 2015   19 Comments

When Pepsi and Coca-Cola named their drinks “Diet Pepsi” and “Diet Coke”, they thought that the zero calorie versions of their popular drinks would help people lose weight.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? A regular soda can range from 120-200 calories and that can of Diet Coke is zero. Wouldn’t you think that if you consumed these lower calorie drinks instead of the sugary version, you would be slimmer?

Alas, it doesn’t look like it. Researchers have looked at whether people who drink diet soda are less heavy than their non-diet soda drinking counterparts and have found no correlation between drinking diet soda and being lighter.

One study even found that increasing diet soda intake was associated with “escalating abdominal obesity” in older adults. Maybe people feel that they can eat more now that they drink a “diet” drink instead of a regular soda.

In addition, artificial sweeteners have been implicated in reduced glucose tolerance in mice – which means that they may contribute to increased risk of diabetes. I wrote about this study and my decision to stop drinking diet sodas here: Put The Diet Coke Down.

Now that we have numerous scientific studies that these drinks aren’t aiding weight loss (and may even cause weight gain) – can we ask Pepsi and Coca-Cola to rename their drinks?

One group, U.S. Right to Know, is petitioning the FDA to ask these companies to change the diet soda names. They consider the name “Diet Coke” to be fraudulent because “diet” in this instance means, “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight”.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola (and all the companies that make these drinks) should take a hard look at whether this claim is false and perhaps go through a renaming exercise. Coca-Cola already has “Coke Zero” which seems like a fair name for a drink with zero calories.

I can think of a few things that would work like:

  • Sugar-Free
  • Sweetened with a zero calorie alternative to sugar
  • Lacking in sugar and tastes like crap

I stopped drinking these a while ago after a mean Diet Coke habit that had no affect on my weight. My husband kept asking me how I could drink them since he said, “Those taste foul!”. (thanks)

It may be that when you take the word “Diet” off of the drink, they become less enticing.

What do you think? Do you think the term “Diet” matters in how we perceive these drinks?


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19 Comments:

My best friend's father had brain cancer and one of the first questions the doctors asked him was, "Do you drink diet drinks?" :(

on April 20, 2015

I'm battling a mean diet coke addition. I try hard and succeed most of the time, however it's always calling my name. I can spot a 20oz diet coke from a mile away. And then my daughters school decided that collecting coke rewards was a good fundraiser (I strongly disagree). I wonder if they are really addictive or if it's just me.

on April 20, 2015

I stopped drinking diet soda and caffeine on 1/23/15 after learning from my dentist that the diet soda's acid had eaten away the enamel on teeth and I needed 4 cavities, and a new crown filled. My doctor had been trying to break me of my 7-10 can a day habit but nothing worked until I had to go through all that dental work! I stopped cold turkey but haven't lost a single pound. Actually I gained some from switching my diet soda habit to sugar. I drank one a few weeks ago and thought that it tasted like floor cleaner. My mind still craves it though and I notice it whenever I see the silver cans.

on April 20, 2015

I personally like the taste of these "diet" sodas, but I take it a step further by insisting on the gold colored can for caffeine-free (health issues). I used to drink the regular sodas, but the "diet" versions are less sweet and for someone who doesn't have a strong sweet-tooth to begin with, this was perfect. Now I have SodaStream and I make my own syrups with pure fruit (no sugar). I make a mean Ginger Beer with plenty of kick ^_^

on April 20, 2015

Thank you for this information. It makes sense! Hard to fool our bodies. Let's hear it for real food!

on April 20, 2015

What do you think of the new coke product...in the green can. I believe it is labeled as stevia and cane sugar?

on April 20, 2015

I don't drink Diet Coke because a) I'm allergic to aspartame (thank goodness) and b) it tastes bad. In fact, they're so unappealing to me that I've wondered if there's some extra addictive quality to either aspartame or the combo of that and caffeine, as people seem to be crazy for it. I have a family member who drinks it like it's his job, and absolutely refuses to give it up.
I've used Splenda myself, not that it's great but I didn't have any allergic reactions to it, or so I thought. However now I'm reading there may be a connection to body aches, which are a problem with me. Diet Coke with Splenda tastes like dirty water, though.
Anyhoo...yep, "diet" is a short, easily read powerful word that promotes sales (just look at all the supermarket magazines with "diet" on the cover). It's doubtful the Coca-Cola company would change it.

on April 20, 2015

I believe that when I was young the low calorie drinks had their own names (i.e. Tab was a Coke product). I stopped diet versions of most drinks because of the recent reports regarding the health issues plus I never really liked the taste of any of them.

on April 20, 2015

I love a diet coke. Everything in moderation.

on April 20, 2015

I was never a big drinker of diet soda although diet coke was my soda of choice. I gave it up 4 years ago after a 1-2 can/day habit. It was HARD! Now my beverage is water, plain or sparkling with fresh lemon or lime.

on April 20, 2015

I have actually lost weight and kept it off since I stopped drinking "real" sodas and replaced them with diet soda. I think moderation is key. Too much of anything is bad (water, alcohol, diet sodas, real sodas). I met a lady who told me she drinks 2-3 2 liters of diet coke daily. Even "pure" water has things in it that are not good for you.

on April 20, 2015

diet. soda. = poison.
anyone using the word "healthier" in the same
sentence as diet soda is laughable.
believe it: get completely off the diet soda
myth of losing weight. your health is 100%
compromised. drink water. not sparkling. with
citrus/cukes/berries. ANYTHING but don't
drink soda. (think I hate soda yet?) :)

on April 20, 2015

I think that the only people that "Diet" may help are people with diabetes, but I don't like diet anything and I really read what's in it if it says low fat, fat free, lite, etc. because some companies add more harmful stuff for your body in the product,just to take out a couple of calories. I was raised on full fat stuff. Like Pork bacon instead of turkey bacon, actual butter not margarine (but I do like ghee which is clarified butter) Whole milk, we eat all of the egg yolk and all. We just don't over indulge on it. I don't really drink soda, If I have a craving Soda water (sometimes all I want is something fizzy) and fruit puree always does the trick. I'm sure all of you guys drink it too.

on April 20, 2015

Not a big fan of soda for over 20years. Nowadays I may enjoy an occasional gingerale [Zevia brand, stevia sweetened] but a 6-pack lasts for months. Beverages of choice include water, sometimes flavored with fruit or juice and a variety of teas. Iced teas are a great refreshing substitute for sodas.

on April 20, 2015

Soda (period) has been a curse to the world's health. Most of us have drank the koolaid before our eyes were opened. But so many are blind, and then there are those who purposefully wear blinders. The manufacturers know how bad it is on all fronts. My soda-guzzling neighbor severely broke her leg in two while simply jumping on their trampoline and still cannot walk after a year. Bones robbed of minerals will do this.

on April 20, 2015

I believe in vinegar magic but never would believe coke magic! So coke does have a place in our grocery card after all?

http://www.reshareable.tv/25-practical-uses-coca-cola.html

on April 20, 2015

I should define this as a liquid that acts a remedies for most short term disease like acidity and is also a good supporting sister of alchohol too!

on April 21, 2015

Word "Diet" before any cola is a lie. It won't help you to loose weight, don't belive it. What works is a proper diet combined with exercises. This worked for me when I was struggling with my overweight. If someone would like to know more see this link

http://www.healthandfitnesspersonalreview.com/health-fitness/my-review-about-venus-factor-female-fat-loss/

on April 21, 2015

@Brooklyn Exactly right, Brooklyn — diet beverages are lower calorie, and can therefore be a helpful component of an overall weight loss and management plan. As with all sources of calories, moderation is a good rule of thumb. Scientific research over decades reinforces this conclusion too. Check out this study, for instance: http://bit.ly/Ik4zjC.
-American Beverage Association

on April 21, 2015


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