“We were really interested in the everyday person who is consuming these products not to lose weight, but because they think it’s the healthier choice, for many years on end,” Meghan Azad, lead author of the review and a research scientist at the University of Manitoba, said. At the moment, “there is no clear benefit for weight loss, and there’s a potential association with increased weight gain, diabetes and other negative cardiovascular outcomes.”
Scientists still aren’t sure why artificial sweeteners have such a negative impact on our health. Some hypothesize that the sweet stuff could increase our craving for sugary foods, change the way our bodies handle real sugar, or alter our metabolism for the worse. On the other hand, if we feel proud for turning up our nose at real sugar, we may feel tempted to cheat on our diets later on.
These results don’t indicate a direct cause and effect relationship, of course; lots of different habits and lifestyles can determine overall health. And having a diet soda every once in awhile won’t kill you, ultimately. However, it can benefit your long term health by making some simple changes to your diet. Azad recommends nixing your sweet tooth entirely and opting for more savory alternatives, such as plain or fruit-infused water, black coffee, or plain yogurt mixed with fruit.