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May 27, 2014 11:32 AM EDT

Diet Sodas May Play A Positive Role In Weight Loss

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New research reaffirms that diet beverages helps people lose weight, CBS News reported.

The recent study, conducted by researchers at University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Aurora, Colo., and Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia, suggests that diet beverages do play appositive role in weight loss. The findings contradict a number of other recent studies that indicated drinking diet soda may actually cause a person to gain weight.

"This study clearly demonstrates diet beverages can in fact help people lose weight, directly countering myths in recent years that suggest the opposite effect - weight gain," James O. Hill, co-author of the study and executive director of the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, said in a statement. "In fact, those who drank diet beverages lost more weight and reported feeling significantly less hungry than those who drank water alone. This reinforces if you're trying to shed pounds, you can enjoy diet beverages."

For the study, researchers conducted a randomized 12-week clinical trial involving 303 people.

One half of the group was asked to drink at least 24 ounce of diet drinks per day, long with as much water as they wanted. The rest of the study participants could drink 24 ounces of water each day but no soda. The water group was also "permitted to consume food products containing sugar substitutes, such as yogurt, gum, candy and ice cream, but could not add artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Equal to their coffee or tea," CBS News reported.

They found that people in the diet soda group lost an average of 13 pounds during the study period, while those who only drank water only lost 9 pounds. This added up to 44 percent more weight loss among the diet soda drinkers than the control group.

According to CNN News, the study addresses the question of whether a regular diet soda drinker should attempt to kick his or her habit while also attempting to lose weight.

 "There's so much misinformation about diet beverages that isn't based on studies designed to test cause and effect, especially on the internet," John C. Peters, co-author of the study and the chief strategy officer of the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, said in a statement. "This research allows dieters to feel confident that low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages can play an important and helpful role as part of an effective and comprehensive weight loss strategy."

The findings were recently published in the journal Obesity.

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