While they contribute minimal kilojoules to the diet, people question the role of diet soft drinks when managing their weight.

In fact one of the most enduring conceptions has been that drinking low- or no-kilojoule beverages would actually increase one’s appetite, encouraging dieters to gain weight rather than lose it. 

A new study funded by the American Beverage Association and published in the journal Obesity may just have provided evidence to suggest otherwise. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado and Temple University, investigated the impact of low- and no-kilojoule beverages on weight loss among overweight and obese men and women. 

Taking two groups of dieters over 12 weeks, the researchers provided identical weight-loss advice and psychological support, but instructed one group to drink 700ml of water a day, and the other 700ml of a diet beverage. The study found that not only did consuming diet beverages not impede one’s ability to lose weight, but that the group on low or no-kilojoule drinks sodas actually lost more, when used as part of a weight loss program.

Dietitian Glenn Cardwell believes this study demonstrates that diet drinks can easily be part of someone’s weight-loss plan. “Its a good study to show that if you choose to drink diet soft-drinks it will not upset your ability to lose weight,” said Glenn.

Glenn believed that the misconceptions about diet soft drinks stemmed from a lack of hard research into their effects. “Whats happened in the past, is that people have done observational studies,” he explained. “Observational studies often just leave you an impression, not a cause and effect.”

He likened the approach to the weather: if its raining, youll see lots of people with their umbrella up. Did the umbrella cause the rain? Or did raining cause them to put up an umbrella? “You have people who are overweight, and they say that overweight people are more likely to drink a diet drink,” said Glenn. “But thats only because if youre overweight youre trying to make steps to avoid taking in too many kilojoules.”