Err, yes?

Heavy Americans who drink diet beverages rather than those sweetened with sugar appear to eat more, according to a study released on Thursday that raised questions about the role lower-calorie drinks play in helping people lose weight.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University analyzed data from a U.S. survey of 24,000 people over a period of 10 years. People who were overweight or obese generally consumed the same amount of calories a day no matter what they drank, but those who chose diet drinks got more of those calories from food.


If you
are overweight* then you are consuming more calories: thus if you get fewer of those calories from soda pops then you will be gaining more from other sources which are not soda pops.

This seems reasonably obvious really.

16 comments on “Err, yes?

  1. Oh, ignore the details & go for the core. The intention is, everyone drinks nothing but tap-water & eats nothing but lentils & mung beans. The resultant spike in methane emission will require withdrawal of the food ration.
    It’s the small print in a comprehensive, species wide, suicide bid.

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  3. “People who were overweight or obese generally consumed the same amount of calories a day no matter what they drank, but those who chose diet drinks got more of those calories from food”: great, then they get the advantage of more fibre, minerals, vitamins and whatnot.

    Anyway if they are “overweight” they should be healthier on average than the “normal”, or so mortality figures seem to say. And even if they are obese, as long as it’s mild obesity, they should be healthier than the underweight. Though they may not be representative, given that they have the childish habit of drinking “soda”.

  4. “People who were overweight or obese generally consumed the same amount of calories a day no matter what they drank”

    erm, yes?

  5. It is the ‘negative calorie effect’.

    So, that diet coke permits eating the cream filled doughnut because the negative calories in the coke, nix the calories in the doughnut, or you can have two doughnuts because the diet soda means it is only like eating one.

  6. For their next assignment, the researchers will be evaluating methods of birth control by monitoring their impact on pregnant people.

  7. Fat people consume more calories than they expend? Thinnist propaganda. I blame Big Thermodynamics.

  8. “If you are overweight* then you are consuming more calories:”

    Umm. No. If you consume more calories than you burn (and bear in mind that the latter is not an independent variable) then you will increase in weight. If you consume fewer calories than you burn, then you will decrease in weight. If you consume about as many calories as you burn, you will stay much the same weight.

    Since most people are relatively stable in weight (certainly compared to the amount of food they eat) obese people only eat more to the extent that they burn more calories.

    As it happens, there is a fairly broad range of individual calorie consumptions, some people eat/burn a lot, some a little, but it doesn’t actually have much to do with weight, which is caused by a different set of factors, mainly genetic and age-related. But whatever. Saying it isn’t going to convince anybody.

  9. Calories, like BMI, is an out of date Victorian science. BMI was for checking the population as a whole, not checking individuals. Calories assumes that all food is digested the same way. In fact it’s calculated by burning food which is nothing like how the stomach works. So David Moore is right, it’s the wrong kind of calories.

  10. SBML, while you may have a point about how calories are treated by the bodies, as opposed to what happens when they are burnt, on average calories (or kilojoules as we use here in Oz) are a pretty good way of assessing the energy content, and energy density of food.

    Calories are King as demonstrated by Professor Haub at the university of Kansas: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/

    Until something better is invented the counting calories is the best tool available.

  11. People who were overweight or obese generally consumed the same amount of calories a day no matter what they drank, but those who chose diet drinks got more of those calories from food.

    There are two other ways to interpret this. One is the Atkins Diet way – sugars and fats make people feel full. So they stop eating earlier. Possible but not convincing. The other is that having a single diet coke a day makes self righteous fatties feel smug and morally superior so they can allow themselves that extra KFC chicken bucket. Entirely believable on an anecdote level but lacking in evidence.

    I think they are missing the main issue. Most of these studies rely on self-reporting. And as someone pointed out last month, people lie, especially fat people, especially when reporting food consumption.

  12. “Until something better is invented the counting calories is the best tool available.”

    As the Romans used to say: Until something better is invented the chicken entrails are the best tool available.

  13. “There are two other ways to interpret this.”

    And yet another way is simply that the body controls the intake and use of energy like it does any other internal biochemical system, it requires a certain amount of energy per day, and it adjusts the appetite in order to get precisely that.

    It’s like saying that people who don’t drink coffee take in more fluids from other foods and beverages. You drink when you get thirsty and you get thirsty when you’re running low on water. So obviously if you don’t drink coffee you’ll drink something else instead.

    Of course, if you was mad enough to try to lose weight by drinking less water (it’s heavy stuff!) then just cutting out coffee wouldn’t work. You’d have to cut out all fluids, and then use willpower to ignore the thirst signals from your body telling you that something’s wrong. After a bit your body would excrete less water, reducing your requirement, so you’d have to cut back even further to have the same effect. Ultimately you’d start to damage your health.

    Thirst and hunger both work the same way. If you cut down one food, you eat more of others. If you cut down all foods you get hungry, then your metabolism slows down so you need less, then you start to damage your health. It’s obvious, really.

    Although overweight people do generally have more water in their bodies, they don’t necessarily drink more water than other people. It depends how much they excrete, which in turn depends on many other factors. It’s true that drinking water does increase your weight, by 1kg for every litre you drink. But to say that people are overweight *because* they drink too much water is an obvious nonsense.

    Given that 60% of your body mass is water, it clearly has to be part of the mechanism and in fact, since the percentage of water in the human body is 2-4 times the typical percentage of fat, it’s by a significant margin the majority of the mechanism, but you don’t (and I hope you never will) see health-food campaigners advocating weight loss by cutting down on water intake. It’s odd, don’t you think, how nobody notices the inconsistency? We are all blind to our shared cultural assumptions.

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