Sparkling water has long been heralded as a healthy drink choice; a healthier option than regular or diet soda’s and a bit more interesting than plain water. It is water after all, fizzy it may be, but it’s still water, right? Maybe not.
Recently, headlines circulated suggesting a recent study said that sparkling water could actually be making us hungrier and encouraging us to eat more.
Carbonated drinks are mainly considered unhealthy because of their sugar content. But researchers from Birzeit University in Palestine, wanted to find out whether it was actually due to the gasses in the drink rather than the sugar.
In the study, they gave rats tap water, flat water, ordinary soda and diet sugar-free soda. The scientists, who published their study in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, found that when they gave rats fizzy drinks over water they gained weight at a faster rate. This weight gain was because the rat’s levels of the hormone that controls hunger, called ghrelin, was elevated.
The researchers then looked at 20 young men to see if the same findings as they found in the rats could apply. They found that the men also had higher levels of the ghrelin hormone. The scientists suggested that these results “implicate a major role for carbon dioxide gas in soft drinks in inducing weight gain and the onset of obesity”.
Even though the study didn’t test for the effect of carbonated water, it has been assumed that the gas in the drinks, as opposed to the sugar, was making the rats fat.
The author of the study, Professor Stiban, has been quoted as saying his findings were not properly reported in the media – a large amount of headlines said things to the effect of: “Sparking water could make you fat!!”, which is simply not the case. Sparkling water contains zero calories, so it is highly unlikely it can directly make you gain weight and lead to obesity.
“In the media, our findings were not represented accurately,” he told the European Federation of Bottled Waters. “We note that in our human tests, sparkling water and other carbonated drinks induced more ghrelin release in the subjects, however, we did not measure obesity or any other aspect pertaining humans. Our study was mainly focused on soft drinks and intertwined roles of carbon dioxide and sugar content in the obesity of rats.”
The NHS also point out that this…