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Is Diet Soda Okay During Pregnancy

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Ideally, women should not consume artificially sweetened beverages, like soda, while pregnant.

Here's why.

Pregnant women should be cautious when it comes to consuming artificially sweetened beverages. Research has shown that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can result in heavier babies, who may then develop into heavier adults. To limit calories, many people opt for diet sodas, which contain no calories. However, a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics indicates that consuming these drinks may have unintended consequences.

Here's a link to the study: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2528307

The study looked at over 3,000 pregnant women and found that those who drank more artificially sweetened beverages tended to have heavier babies. Although the correlation was less strong when factors like overall calorie intake and diet quality were taken into account, it was still present. It appears that the artificial sweeteners themselves may be problematic.

There have been concerns for some time that these sweeteners may not be beneficial for weight control. In one study, people who drank diet soda actually gained more weight than those who drank regular soda. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. It could be that people feel virtuous for drinking diet drinks and thus end up consuming more calories.

Alternatively, the intense sweetness of artificial sweeteners may change our tastes so that less sweet foods (including fruits) no longer taste as good. Finally, it could be something about how our bodies process and respond to these chemicals. All of this suggests that pregnant women should avoid consuming artificially sweetened beverages.

It's important for pregnant women to avoid artificially sweetened beverages, as they can have unintended consequences.

Despite their potential to limit weight gain, they have been linked to heavier babies, which may lead to future health problems. Instead, it's best to stick with water and unsweetened beverages, and consume the occasional sugary drink in moderation while maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Preventing childhood obesity starts early, and it's important for pregnant women to prioritize their health and that of their developing baby by making healthy dietary choices. Remember, you're not just eating for yourself, but for your growing baby as well.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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