Take another sip of that Diet Coke without fear that it may be spurring your appetite. Apparently, diet soda drinkers don't eat any more sugary or fatty foods than people who stick with water instead, according to a study.

Some researchers have proposed that drinks sweetened with artificial sugar might disrupt hormones involved in hunger and satiety cures, causing people to eat more. Others hypothesized that diet beverages could boost the drinker's preference for sweet tastes.

"Our study does not provide evidence . . . that a short-term consumption of diet beverages, compared with water, increases preferences for sweet foods and beverages," wrote lead researcher Carmen Piernas in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Piernas, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, and her colleagues looked at 318 overweight or obese adults in North Carolina, all of whom said they consumed at least 280 calories' worth of drinks each day. One third of the participants were advised to substitute at least two daily servings of sugary beverages with water. Another third was instructed to substitute diet drinks. After three and six months, people reported their food and beverage intake on two different days in detail.

According to the report, water and diet beverage drinkers reduced their average daily calories relative to the start of the study, from between 2,000 and 2,300 calories to 1,500 to 1,800 calories. -- Reuters

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