In response to “Diet Soda Intake Is Associated with Long-Term Increases in Waist Circumference in a Biethnic Cohort of Older Adults: The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging,” a study published online today ahead of print in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society, the American Beverage Association issued the following statement:


“Previous research, including human clinical trials, supports that diet beverages are an effective tool as part of an overall weight management plan.  Numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of diet beverages – as well as low-calorie sweeteners, which are in thousands of foods and beverages – in helping to reduce calorie intake.

It’s important to recognize that this observational study looked at an aging population – those over 65 at the beginning of the study, who are already at risk of weight gain and cardiovascular disease – and then made conclusions based on associations.  However, many trying to lose or control their weight look for ways to reduce calories, including with their beverage choices.”

Additional Background:

On the Study:

This was an observational study that does not – and cannot – establish causation. In fact, the study subjects reported what they consumed years after doing so.  Further, the researchers did not assess total caloric intake and just singled out one specific aspect of the diet. Furthermore, the subjects of the study were already part of a cardiovascular research study and were of an age that put them at greater risk of a number of adverse health outcomes, including weight gain typically seen with aging.    According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), Mexican-American women, who were included in this study, are at greater risk for metabolic syndrome. Also according to the NIH, age is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

On Low-Calorie Sweeteners and Diet Beverages:

A study published in the journal Obesity showed that dieters who drank diet beverages as part of an overall weight loss program were able to lose weight successfully. The CHOICE study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, confirms that diet beverages can be an important tool in helping reduce calories and directly counters the assertion that drinking diet beverages causes people to eat more or to want sweet foods and beverages.  A recently published meta-analysis by Miller and Perez showed no association between low-calorie sweetener intake and increased body weight or fat mass, and a small positive association with body mass index (BMI) in the observational studies. However, data from randomized control trials, which provide the highest quality of evidence for examining the potentially causal effects of low-calorie sweetener intake, indicate that substituting low-calorie sweetened options for their regular-calorie versions results in a modest weight loss, and may be a useful dietary tool to improve adherence to weight loss or weight maintenance plans. Recently, an international group of obesity experts issued a consensus statement from a two-day conference evaluating the existing science of the use of low-calorie sweeteners in today’s diet and lifestyle choices and concluded that they help to reduce calorie intake by substituting for higher-calorie options.  They also concluded that low-calorie sweeteners help to enhance weight loss under real life conditions when used as part of a weight loss program. A paper published in Nutrition Bulletin also showed that “using foods and drinks sweetened with aspartame … is an effective way to maintain and lose weight without losing the palatability of the diet.” A paper published in the International Journal of Obesity concluded that weight loss maintainers use a number of dietary strategies to accomplish their weight loss, including “increased consumption of artificially sweetened beverages.” A review in Nutrition Reviews that examined the role of low-calorie sweeteners and weight management found that “to date, prospective observational studies have revealed mixed results, and it appears that reverse causality is a particular problem, since individuals who are at high risk for weight gain may choose to consume artificially-sweetened beverages in an attempt to control their weight or reduce disease risk.” The position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:  “consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes, as well as individual health goals and personal preference.” The American Diabetes Association states: “foods and drinks that use artificial sweeteners are another option that may help curb your cravings for something sweet.” 

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The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.  For more information on ABA, please visit the association’s Web site at or call the ABA communications team at (202) 463-6770.