If you're trying to lose weight, is it better to drink water, or is it OK to drink zero-calorie soda?

Temple University researchers are recruiting study participants to conduct what they say is the first head-to-head comparison of the two.

 

"From a calorie point of view, water versus diet beverage, (there is) absolutely no difference," said Gary Foster, Temple's Center for Obesity Research and Education. The question is: "What's the collateral effect?"

Foster said that collateral effect is where the debate lies.

"If diet beverages have a sweet taste, maybe they get you to crave sweet foods, and that could derail you from you weight-control efforts," Foster said.

Obesity researcher Sharon Fowler, with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said some observational studies show drinking diet soda is associated with gaining weight. But it's not clear if there is any cause-and-effect relationship.

"This study will help to unravel the question of whether the association we've seen in observational studies ... is truly a causal association," Fowler said.

Researchers at Temple and the University of Colorado each are recruiting 150 dieters to drink water or zero-calorie soda, juice drinks or flavored water for 13 months to see who fares better in the end.

The study is funded by the American Beverage Association. Researcher Gary Foster said good scientific controls are in place to minimize any possible bias.