INDIANAPOLIS - An expert said people who drink diet soda to cut sugar and lose weight might be experiencing the opposite effect.
Susie Swithers, a researcher at Purdue University, compiled decades of research into a new study.
She said the data is clear, diet soda is just as bad as regular soda when it comes to the long-term health risks.
"People who drink diet sodas regularly and often as little as one every day end up having a significantly increased risk not only for things like overweight and obesity, but for diseases like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and stroke," Swithers said.
Swithers said there are two possible reasons. One is those who drink diet soda may think they can get away with eating more.
Another reason is drinking artificial sweeteners regularly may actually confuse the brain, so the brain forgets how to process real sugar.
"In studies where animals are given artificial sweeteners, what we see is even the animals are disrupted. They overeat; they gain excess weight and they have problems with regulation of blood sugar," Swithers said.
Swithers suggested drinking pop as an occasional treat, not a go-to drink.
The American Beverage Association isn't swallowing the new findings. They call diet drinks a safe and effective tool in weight loss and weight management.