Is Your Diet Soft Drink Altering the Way Your Brain Works?

For some time now we have known that artificially sweetened or so called “diet” soft drinks have been linked to obesity. This has led some to believe that those drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks were probably less healthy to start with or that the artificial sweetener somehow impaired the body’s energy regulation. New research indicates that this may not be the case.


A recent study published in the journal Psychology and Behaviour indicates that drinking certain artificially sweetened soft drinks may actually change the way the reward centre of the brain (the caudate head) responds to the intake of sweet foods. Interestingly the caudate head is involved in signalling reward and food intake. Using a functional MRI, researchers found that in subjects who drank “diet” drinks there was less caudate head activation than those who did not drink “diet” drink regularly.


The results have led the researchers to theorise that the intake of artificial sweeteners has changed the way the brain associates sweet taste and calorie intake. The brain actually responded less to the sweet taste in those who consumed diet soft drink. This changed interpretation to sweet taste and calorie intake by diet soft drink consumers making it more likely that they will consume more calories later in the day than those who do not consume diet soft drinks. In short, this means that your brain thinks you are consuming fewer calories than you actually are, therefore tricking you into thinking you need to eat more.


Green, E. Murphy, C. Altered Processing of Sweet Tatse in Diet Soda Drinkers. Available at: Viewed October 28th, 2012.



About Ian Murray

Ian is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner at Kenmore Centre for Health. This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.
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