This morning, Robyn O’Brien, an anti-everything mommy blogger, tweeted out an article to her 38,000 followers that a scientist name Susan Swithers who published an article critical of artificial sweeteners was being attacked by scientists with “industry connections.” The article to which she linked in her tweet is typical “hero independent scientist” attacked by “big bad industry-funded sell-out.” It’s all so tiresome.
But I decided to take a look at the article because 1) I love Diet Coke (no one paid me to say that, Robyn, so CALM DOWN!) and 2) millions of dieters are helped by diet products currently in the marketplace.
Anyway, I looked at the Swithers study and right way I noticed something amiss. The Swither’s study says, “…evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes may also be at increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”
Hmm. This sounds serious. But is it the diet soda?
Probably not and here’s why.
Research also shows that the main consumers of diet products are people who are already overweight. That creates a chicken or egg question: is it the diet soda that’s causing these people’s weight to increase or were these people already overweight and the diet soda is a way for them to save calories so they can use their daily calorie allotment on food.
Which brings up another well known phenomena: the person who orders a super-sized fast food meal along with a…diet cola. Yes, that happens quite a bit. The reason? People will sacrifice a full-sugar drink in order to eat more. This is because people who are overweight often struggle with eating too much and not getting enough exercise.
Dr. Swithers is simply behaving like many people interested in the obesity issue: she’s searching for that one thing that makes us all battle weight instead of accepting the truth: obesity is a complicated issue that deserves a far more complex solution than banning one ingredient or vilifying another.
O'Brien should think twice about tweeting out junk science to her followers. No doubt, there are people among those 38,000 that struggle with their weight and because of her article have crossed off their daily treat of having a diet drink. That's not much help to these people looking lose weight.