Media Release

28 May 2014

New study affirms diet beverages play positive role in weight loss

The Australian Beverages Council today said a new study published in leading medical journal Obesity validates what we have long known; when used consistently, low- and no-kilojoule or ‘diet’ beverages can assist people to manage and lose weight.

The 12 week clinical study from the US of 303 participants is the first prospective, randomised clinical trial to directly compare the effects of water and diet beverages on weight loss within a behavioural weight loss program. Conducted simultaneously by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Aurora, Colorado and Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia, the study shows subjects who consumed diet beverages lost an average of 5.90 kilograms: 44 per cent more than the water group, which lost an average of 4.08 kilograms.  More than half of the participants in the diet beverage group, or 64 per cent, lost at least five percent of their body weight, compared with only 43 percent of the water group.  Losing just five per cent of body weight has been shown to significantly improve health, including lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

“There’s so much misinformation around low and no-kilojoule beverages that is based on weak science. This robust study clearly demonstrates diet beverages can in fact play a part in successful weight loss, directly countering myths in recent years that suggest the opposite effect of weight gain,” said the Council’s CEO Geoff Parker.

“In fact, those who drank diet beverages lost more weight and reported feeling significantly less hungry than those who drank water. This reinforces if you’re trying to lose weight, you can enjoy diet beverages.”

Three out of four of Australia’s top selling soft drinks are diet drinks. 1 Recent research into Australian beverage consumption revealed sales of water-based non-alcoholic beverages has grown by two per cent each year.

“As an industry we’re committed to providing people with a range of beverage options to meet their lifestyle needs. When you look across the supermarket shelves you’ll see beverages are unique in providing both regular and low-kilojoule options”, Mr Parker said.

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups:  those who were allowed to drink diet beverages, such as diet soft drinks, teas and flavoured waters, or those who were in a control group that drank water only. With the exception of beverage options, both groups followed an identical diet and exercise program for the duration of the study.

In addition to losing 44 percent more weight than the water group, the diet beverage group also:

  • Reported feeling significantly less hungry;
  • Showed significantly greater improvements in serum levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the so-called “bad” cholesterol; and
  • Saw a significant reduction in serum triglycerides.

Both diet soft drinks and water groups saw reductions in waist circumference and blood pressure.

This latest study adds to the body of research demonstrating that diet beverages do not hinder, but in fact help, with weight loss.  Two earlier peer-reviewed studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the University of North Carolina in 2012 and 2013 randomly assigned non-dieting participants to drink either water or diet beverages.  While both groups cut their food intake significantly, after six months the diet beverage group had a greater likelihood of reaching a meaningful (5 percent) amount of weight loss compared to the control group. The diet beverage group also experienced a greater reduction in dessert consumption than the water group. Overall, the findings suggest that diet beverages do not fuel a preference for sweet foods and drinks.

 Additional research published in 2009 on weight loss maintenance, drawn from the National Weight Control Registry, found that successful weight loss maintainers drank three times more diet beverages than those who had never lost weight.

ENDS

Note to editors

  1. The study was supported by the American Beverage Association (ABA), a Washington, DC-based trade association.  It was peer-reviewed and posted on www.clinicaltrials.gov. Neither ABA, nor any of its members, was involved in any part of the study, its analysis or the writing of this paper.
  2. 2.     The Australian Beverages Council is the peak body for the non-alcoholic beverages industry and represents 95% of the industry’s production volume through membership.

 

  1. 3.     The University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center is an innovative, state-of-the art research, education and consumer care facility located on CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado.
  1. 4.     Founded in 2006, Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) is a university-wide group of investigators dedicated to excellence in obesity research.

Reference:

  1. 1.     Levy G.S., Shrapnel W.S. (2014) Quenching Australia’s thirst: a trend analysis of water-based beverage sales from 1997 to 2011. Nutrition & Dietetics. doi: 10.1111/1747-0080.12108

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Australian Beverages Council CEO, Geoff Parker or Dietician, Glenn Cardwell, please contact:

Megan Magill, 0438 777 303, megan.magill@hkstrategies.com / Natalie Blake, 0421 868 384, natalie.blake@hkstrategies.com