If you’re going to the movies, you need to figure out what to drink with that popcorn. Regular soda may be the primary cause of obesity in the US, so shouldn’t you switch to diet soda? The surprising answer is no. And are the new vitamin drinks just a gimmick? In a word, yes.

A few leading soft drink companies are trying to change the public’s perception of soda as being bad for you by adding vitamins to their soft drinks, but you need to beware that the perceived benefits of vitamins in soda can be deceiving.

Reseacher Ara DerMarderosian says, "The shelf life and stability of vitamins in soda is low. Carbonated drinks are mildly acidic and water-soluble vitamins will break down over time."

Several sodas are being marketing which contain vitamins and minerals such as Niacin (vitamin B3), vitamins B6, B12, zinc, and magnesium. But unlike encapsulated vitamins, which are designed to have prolonged shelf lives and precise nutritional values, it is uncertain how long water-soluble vitamins will last in soda.

Vitamins in soda will break down at a faster rate when the beverage is not refrigerated. Since the journey from production to the customer can be lengthy, it is likely that the vitamin values listed on the side of the can or bottle are significantly lower by the time the soda is consumed. Moreover, he added that the vitamin concentrations in sodas are usually minute, and certainly not high enough to make soda the sole source. "If you’re trying to get your vitamins from soda you’ll probably spend a lot of money, and still not get significant amounts," DerMarderosian says.

There is laboratory evidence that the widespread use of no-calorie sweeteners may actually make it harder for people to control their intake and body weight. Researchers report that relative to rats that ate yogurt sweetened with glucose (a simple sugar with 15 calories/teaspoon, the same as table sugar), rats given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later.

Psychologists Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson think that by breaking the brain?s connection between a sweet sensation and high-calorie food, the use of saccharin changes the body’s ability to regulate intake. This might explain in part why obesity has risen at the same time as the use of artificial sweeteners.

Why would a sugar substitute backfire? Swithers and Davidson think that sweet foods provide a stimulus that strongly predicts someone is about to take in a lot of calories. Our bodies gear up for that intake but when false sweetness isn’t followed by lots of calories, the system gets confused. Thus, people may eat more or expend less energy than they otherwise would.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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