Diet drinks don’t cause diabetes directly. But, in an ironic twist, these beverages sometimes trigger greater-than-normal cravings for real sugar. Studies show that people who choose diet soda tend to dish up extra helpings of sugary foods to compensate. Doing so overtaxes the body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight and manage blood sugar, and it could lead to an increased risk of diabetes, says Mary Beth Robinson, a dietitian with the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
The healthiest drink? Good old water. If you must indulge your sweet tooth, Dr. Felicia Stone, host of the TLC show Honey, We’re Killing the Kids, says, “I’d rather see someone consume one daily soft drink (sweetened with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or agave) than any drink with a non-nutritive sweetener. But there is no substitute for what we know works best: Eat less, drink more water, and increase daily physical activity.”