Pink Elephant

Can’t See the Pink Elephant

Hiding behind headlines about how diet sodas are linked to eating more junk food is a huge pink elephant that health reporters are ignoring. Though the notion of diet sodas being some sort of gateway to junk food had more zing, wpid-wp-1442132389696.jpgthat same study found a five-fold bigger increase in daily calories linked to alcohol consumption. That’s right, people consuming alcohol took in five times more calories than people consuming diet beverages.

This observation is not totally unexpected. A recent study published in Obesity showed how alcoholic beverages caused a heightened response to food aromas and as a result, more food consumption.

Writing for the Glycemic Index Foundation earlier this year, Nicole Senior described the blind spot for alcohol:

There’s endless talk about carbs being fattening and sugar being poison, but we don’t hear much about alcohol as a possible key contributor to obesity in adults. Considering Australian adults, for example, consume 4.3% of their daily kilojoules (calories) as alcohol, you have to wonder why the deafening silence.

Yet not one of the stories about this new study talked about alcohol. The university press release paired an infographic above with a headline that ignored the obvious alcohol issue:

Diet Beverage Drinkers Compensate By Eating Unhealthy Food, Study Finds

Perhaps it was more fun to build on popular misperceptions about diet beverages and artificial sweeteners. But it’s not very informative.

My parents didn’t hide reality. I watched cartoons and the news with equal fascination. — Jello Biafra

Click here for the study, here for the university news release, and here for the commentary from Nicole Senior.

The Pink Elephant Bar, Monte Rio, CA. Photograph © Todd Lappin / flickr

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September 14, 2015