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STOP! Before You Pop Open That Diet Soda...

Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorNow it seems like common sense: if you are looking to save a few calories and you're in the mood for a soda, the best route to go is a "diet."

Well, before you start congratulating yourself on 150+ calories saved, you may want to think about what that "diet" drink is really doing to your waistline.

Expanding it.

Which obviously is the opposite of what you think is supposed to happen.

New research from Purdue University offers an opinion on diet sodas, and how they may be, in part, to blame for our ever-increasing weight gain problem -- and the health conditions that go with those extra pounds.

They took a look at dozens of studies -- more than 100,000 people -- and wonder if there is any coincidence that our country is collectively weighing more ... as the country guzzles more and more diet sodas.

The analysis notes people who drink "diet sodas" tend to have just as much, if not more, problems with tight belts, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, as people who don't drink artificially sweetened beverages.

The theory: the issues are  a combo of physical and psychological factors.

First, drink a "diet drink" and you may think, well, I can now go ahead and chow down on that extra serving of "something," since I just took in zero calories.

Unfortunately, most people go way past the saved calories and wind up eating more calories over the course of the day.

Physically, there is a concern that these artificial sweeteners may do weird things to your hormones and metabolism -- your brain starts telling you that you're still hungry -- so you wind up eating more because you're simply not satisfied.

It's almost as if the diet drink stimulates you to "need" to eat more to fill up.

Certainly, a lot of this is only theory. But it sure does make you wonder about the relationship between the explosion of artificial sweeteners over the past 20-30 years and the explosion on the scales in America's bathrooms. Obesity rates are waaaaay up ...

Here's the choice I've made (one actually made it in 2007): I don't drink diet soda and I rarely drink regular soda -- or any other sweetened drink, whether it be real or artificial.

In other words, I don't think regular soda is better than diet soda ... or vice versa.

It's not an "either/or" proposition. Seriously -- how healthy is any kind of soda?

Update: Here is the response from the American Beverage Association:


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