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Reuters recently reported on how Johns Hopkins University analyzed data from a U.S. survey of 24,000 people over a period of 10 years related to diet soda and obesity. From the article:

In the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, overweight drinkers of diet beverages in the United States ate 1,965 in food calories a day compared to 1,874 calories among heavy people who drank regular sugar-sweetened beverages.

Among obese diet beverage drinkers, those who consumed low- or no-calorie drinks ate 2,058 calories a day in food versus 1,897 food calories for those who had regular drinks, researchers said.

My take on this study is it does not prove diet drinks cause an increase in appetite because there are many other studies that show artificial sweeteners have no affect on appetite.

However, it does prove why the invention of diet drinks did not solve the obesity crisis in America. We continue to consume foods with large portions and prepare our meals in a way that increases calories, which exceeds the calories we saved by using diet drinks.

Although several large food and beverage companies have successfully removed billions of calories from the products they sell in the United States in an effort to combat obesity, I firmly believe that reducing calories will not resolve the obesity epidemic in America until we educate people of all ages on how to make better eating choices. Many food and beverage companies use labeling that makes it very confusing for the average person to spot the danger in what they eat and drink. I believe the FDA needs to update its labeling policies to simplify and standardize them across all food groups.

The truly important takeaway from the diet soda and obesity study is we need to keep track of our calories if we want to lose weight, like my friend Michael Evans suggests in his post about keeping a food journal. It doesn’t matter if the calories are from food or drinks. If you’re working on losing weight, you must count all the calories you consume.

To lose weight successfully, you need a comprehensive plan that takes into consideration the quantity and quality of calories you consume and incorporates a means to be physically active. Plain and simple.

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