Artificial Sweeteners Like Those In Diet Sodas Linked To Weight Gain

All you diet soda drinkers out there, a warning--that can of coke may not be as "diet" as you think. A recent Purdue University study links artificial sweeteners like those find in diet sodas to weight gain, even if you have just one a day.

It's that magic word that seems to make it all okay to drink one or two or even five a day--"diet."  Diet sodas have all the flavor with none of the guilt...or so, we think..

"Although we're tasting something sweet, we're not actually getting that sweetness," explains UT Health Center at Tyler Registered Dietician Natalie Roberts.

Your tongue and brain are essentially "tricked" by the artificial sweetener. When you eat real sugar, insulin is released, giving you energy to burn off.

"When you look at just non-nutritive sweeteners, there isn't that release of insulin so you're still going to be hungry and you're going to want to eat because you're not satisfying your body's need to get energy from food sources," Roberts adds.

And that over-eating equals weight gain.

"I thought I was doing good drinking diet sodas as opposed to regular soda," says KLTV Operations Manager Adam Troutman.

He used to drink Dr. Pepper, but now it's Diet Coke every day... "probably one or two a day, probably two, maybe sometimes three," he adds.

And we found plenty of diet soda fans during lunchtime at Jason's Deli.

"Diet cokes all day long," says one customer.

"About six a day," says another.

"I've been drinking it since college," says one diet coke addict.

"It surprises me that diet soda could cause you to gain weight and with my age, I'm taking it seriously so I'm trying not to drink even the three week that I drink," says Cynthia Wheat.

So what's a die-hard diet fan to do?

"Drink water, 100 percent juices, low fat dairy, milk," says Roberts.

But if those just don't do it for you, have the diet soda, just watch what and how much you eat after it.

The study also applies to foods, like non-fat yogurt, even flavored waters, that contain artificial sweeteners.

Tracy Watler, Reporting tracy@kltv.com