Do carbonated drinks make you fat?

Carbonated drinks are the  greatest source of added sugars in the diet. Since the mid-1970s, the consumption of soft drinks has increased significantly, both among adults and children. During the same period, the obesity rate in children and adolescents also skyrocketed, from 6% in 1977 to 16% in 2007-2009. A random?

 

The studies say that …

Several reviews of the literature, both in adults and in children and adolescents have looked at the effect of the consumption of soft drinks on weight. So? More than half of the studies show that there is indeed a parallel  to be drawn between the consumption of sugary drinks and weight gain… but we  cannot conclude that there is a cause and effect link . Soft drinks would rather be a marker of our eating habits; that is, people who like soft drinks would also like “junk” foods. 

In addition, artificially sweetened drinks, which therefore do not provide calories, could have the same impact on weight and health as “naturally” sweetened drinks.

 

Different conclusions depending on the quality of the studies and the source of funding

 

Studies that assess the effect of sugary drinks on health often obtain different (and even contradictory!) Results. A study published in 2014 therefore investigated whether the conclusion of a literature review could be linked to its methodological quality and its source of funding. To do this, it analyzed 20 literature reviews or meta-analyzes. Results: The methodological quality of the literature reviews did not seem to have an impact on their conclusion. However, according to the authors, studies that were funded by the sugar industry were more likely to conclude that the link between sugary drinks and weight was unclear compared to studies that were independent.

 

Possible explanations

There are several theories that attempt to explain the link between soft drinks and weight gain:

  • The increase in caloric intake  by the direct consumption of carbonated drinks;
  • The increase in the  stimulation of appetite  by the large variations in glycemic and by the decrease in the secretion of leptin (a hormone involved in the regulation of appetite);
  • The  replacement  of milk and more nutritious foods sweetened beverages.

 

Even with all of these theories and the multiple observational studies that establish associations between soft drink consumption and obesity, it is difficult to establish causal links. Indeed, there are far fewer clinical studies that have looked at the subject and the results are still often contradictory.

 

In the meantime, one thing remains certain: soft drinks are not nutritious, they do not fill you well and the diet versions do not protect us from what we try to avoid when we consume them.

 

Carbonated drinks, artificially sweetened or not, are not very satiating and could lead to the consumption of sugary and often high-calorie foods.

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