Over the last few years, scientists, health campaigners, and politicians have demonised sugar-filled fizzy drinks as causers of weight gain. Last October, the World Health Organisation condemned soft drinks for leading to obesity and related diseases like diabetes and cancer. Countries around the world have since taken action to curb fizzy drink consumption by banning unlimited soda refills and introducing taxes on the sugary stuff.
If you want cut down on extra calories while still enjoying the fizz, then, drinking carbonated water seems like a good alternative. But according to a new study by scientists at Birzeit University in the Palestinian West Bank, that San Pellegrino might not be as as harmless as it seems.
The research, which was published in the Obesity Research and Clinical Practice Journal, found that rats who were given carbonated beverages ate 20 percent more food than rats who were given flat drinks. The experiment, which studied the effects of different drinks on the eating habits of rats over the course of a year, also showed that the rodents who drank fizzy water showed signs of chronic obesity, like fat accumulating around organs.
The effect of fizzy drinks on ghrelin, the hunger hormone, could be what leads to this increase in food consumption and weight gain, the study said. After the rats drank a carbonated drink, their levels of ghrelin were significantly higher than in animals that had consumed flat beverages. The experiment was then repeated on 20 human participants and carbonated drinks were again found to increase ghrelin levels.
However, cutting out sparkling water probably won't help you eat less.
MUNCHIES reached out to Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, to find out if the fizzy stuff really makes you more hungry. Jebb said: "It would be premature to offer advice to people trying to lose weight based on a single small study which looked at rates of weight gain in laboratory animals who are still growing. Advice for weight control needs to be based on rigorous well controlled trials and a full synthesis of the evidence."
Maybe you can have your San Pellegrino and drink it.