Health

Diet Beverage Drinkers Balance Benefit with Unhealthy Food

In this Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015 photo, bottles of Diet Pepsi with, left, and without aspartame, center and right, sit in a case at a store in New York. In response to customer feedback, PepsiCo said earlier this year that it would replace the aspartame in Diet Pepsi with another artificial sweetener that has less baggage. (AP Photo/Candice Choi)
In this Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015 photo, bottles of Diet Pepsi with, left, and without aspartame, center and right, sit in a case at a store in New York. (AP Photo/Candice Choi)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UPI) — Drinkers of diet beverages were found to obtain more of their daily caloric intake from discretionary “junk” foods, likely canceling out the benefits of lower-calorie drinks, according to a new study.

Nearly all of the participants in a large review of nutrition data at the University of Illinois consumed discretionary foods, though researchers said the explanation for some consumers of diet drinks may be tied to guilt for other eating habits.

Discretionary foods are foods that do not belong to the major food groups and are not essential to the human diet, including things like french fries, cookies, ice cream, chocolate and pastries.

“If people simply substitute diet beverages for sugar-sweetened beverages, it may not have the intended effect because they may just eat those calories rather than drink them,” said Ruopeng An, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, in a press release.

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