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:
- 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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