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New Study on Successful Weight Loss Reports Low Cal or Sugar Free Drinks Help People with Weight Management

September 16, 2014

National Weight Control Registry Investigates Behaviors for Success

A new study of people who have lost substantial weight and kept it off long term finds that low calorie or sugar free beverages were a helpful tool in their weight management efforts, as reported by the study participants.

The study was conducted by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), which is the largest longitudinal study of people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The NWCR was established in 1993 and tracks over 10,000 individuals who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept off the weight for more than one year. Detailed questionnaires and annual follow-up surveys are used to examine the behavioral and psychological characteristics of weight maintainers, as well as the strategies they use to maintain their weight losses.

This latest research from NWCR, in adults who sustained a large weight loss, found that most of these individuals included low or sugar-free beverages in their diet1. And 78% of these individuals reported that using low or sugar free drinks helped them control or reduce total food or calorie intake. A substantial number of these participants also reported that making changes in their patterns of beverage consumption were “very important” in their efforts to lose weight (42%) or maintain weight loss (40%).

This study was published in Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society, and evaluated the responses of 434 NWCR members during the period of November 2012 through March 2013. The researchers describe the study as the “first to our knowledge to explore motivations and strategies behind the consumption of low/zero calorie sweetened beverages in successful weight loss maintainers.” Participants in the study had sustained their significant weight loss for an average of greater than seven years.

“The results show that 10% of the study subjects drank sugar-sweetened beverages on a regular basis,” says Maureen Conway, R.D., Director of Nutritional Affairs, McNeil Nutritionals, LLC. “Notably, of this group, less than 1% reported drinking full-calorie (sugar-sweetened) soda. In contrast, 53% of the people drank low or zero calorie (diet or sugar free) beverages on a regular basis, which strengthens the evidence that diet sodas don’t cause weight gain. The researchers conclude that regular use of low or zero calorie sweetened beverages is common in people who have maintained their weight loss.”

According to the study findings, the top four reasons people used low calorie or sugar free beverages were reported as:

  • Taste (54%)
  • To satisfy thirst (40%)
  • As part of a routine (27%)
  • To reduce calories (22%)

Regardless of their primary reason for using low or sugar free drinks, 78% of participants reported using them to help control or reduce the total amount of food or calories they consumed.

“There have been conflicting studies published in recent years on the effect of low calorie sweeteners in weight management,” Ms. Conway says. “Results from this new study provide important insights about people who have accomplished their weight loss goals and the strategies that worked for them. Low calories sweeteners like Splenda® Zero Calorie Sweetener can be an easy way to help reduce the daily intake of calories and carbohydrate from added sugars. It’s one of many small changes people can make in their daily routines that can add up to meaningful changes in their weight management efforts over time.”

Splenda® Brand Sweetener has been used safely by millions of people around the world for more than 20 years, supported by research data from more than 100 studies. Both the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) support the use of low calorie sweeteners such as sucralose as a useful tool in managing weight and diabetes. For more information, visit and


1Victoria A. Catenacci, Zhaoxing Pan, et al: Low/Zero Calorie Sweetened Beverage Consumption in National Weight Control Registry. Obesity. Full article available at Wiley Online Library;

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