'Diet fizzy drinks won't keep children's weight down because they just end up eating more, research has found.
Although the drinks are designed to be healthier by cutting out sugar, children who choose them eat sugar in other things to make up the difference.
Researchers looked at the diets of more than 7,000 children in the US and found only those who mostly drank water consumed fewer calories.
Soft drinks, whether diet or not, bumped up children's calorie counts – while full sugar drinks had a worse effect, diet drinks were still noticeably worse than water.
Those drinking diet drinks consumed around 200 calories extra elsewhere in their diets and more added sugar in other food and drink.
The scientists said their findings suggest diet drinks are not of any use in trying to lose weight.
Researchers from George Washington University in Washington DC carried out the research as part of ongoing work on the drawbacks of soft drinks.
Study author, Dr Allison Sylvetsky, said: 'These results challenge the utility of diet or low-calorie sweetened beverages when it comes to cutting calories and weight management.
'Our findings suggest that water should be recommended as the best choice for kids and teens.'
Compared to children who mostly drank water, those indulging in diet drinks took in an extra 196 calories per day, Dr Sylvetsky's research found.
Children drinking mainly sugary drinks took in an extra 312 calories, while those who drank both diet and full-sugar added a huge 450 calories per day.'
Read more: Guzzling Diet Coke won't keep you slim: People who opt for low-calorie fizzy drinks 'eat 200 extra calories each day'
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