HEALTH

Diet soda doesn’t have to lead to weight loss, court rules

Jan 2, 2020, 3:44 PM

Diet Coke...

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 10: A bottle of Diet Coke is pulled for a quality control test at a Coco-Cola bottling plant on February 10, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Current Coke president James Quincey will become CEO on May 1. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ three judge panel has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a California woman’s lawsuit against Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. for alleged false or misleading advertising. Shana Becerra of Santa Rosa, California claimed the Diet Dr Pepper’s beverage branding and marketing implied it would help people lose weight, according to court documents filed Monday.

Becerra filed her original lawsuit against Dr Pepper’s former parent company in US District Court in October of 2017. The Bay Area resident sought class-action status on behalf of all Californians with similar grievances against Dr Pepper.

In her original complaint, Becerra said she has struggled with obesity since she was a child. She claimed she had purchased and drank Diet Dr Pepper for more than 13 years believing it would help her manage her weight, adding that she “did not receive what she paid for.” A judge ultimately ruled against Becerra, who eventually appealed the case to the Ninth District Court, court records show.

In her latest appeal, Becerra claimed Diet Dr Pepper’s marketing implied the beverage helps people lose or manage their weight. She argued the soda’s use of Aspartame, a calorie-free artificial sweetener, in place of sugar, actually caused people like her to gain weight by interfering “with the body’s ability to properly metabolize calories.”

“Due to the prominent use of the term ‘diet’ in the product’s name, Diet Dr Pepper consumers reasonably believe that the product will assist in weight loss, or at least healthy weight management, for example, by not causing weight gain,” the plaintiff and her attorneys contended.

Last month, however, the Ninth Circuit supported the lower court’s ruling arguing “no reasonable consumer would believe that the word ‘diet’ in a soft drink’s brand name promises weight loss or healthy weight management,” adding that Becerra’s suit failed to show that “members of the public are likely to be deceived.”

“Diet soft drinks are common in the marketplace and the prevalent understanding of the term in that context is that the ‘diet’ version of a soft drink has fewer calories than its ‘regular’ counterpart,” Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the court’s opinion on the matter. “Just because some consumers may unreasonably interpret the term differently does not render the use of ‘diet’ in a soda’s brand name false or deceptive.”

The Ninth Circuit judges also threw out an additional appeal filed by Becerra’s legal team in a similar separate lawsuit against the Coca-Cola Co.

In that case, Becerra’s attorneys were representing two other clients, Evan Geffner and Ivan Babsin. They argued Coca-Cola’s Diet Coke soft drink presented similar misleading advertising. The Diet Coke suit was originally filed in the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which dismissed the case in June. Becerra’s name was added to the Coca-Cola suit when it was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which opted against ruling on the case due to “lack of jurisdiction.”

Coca-Cola and Becerra’s attorneys did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment on the case.

Evan Young, an attorney for Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc., expressed satisfaction with his case’s outcome.

“We appreciate that the Ninth Circuit has allowed common sense to prevail and that it rejected the attempt to complicate something that is so simple,” Young said in a statement emailed to CNN Business.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Health

Utah air quality is going down and it could get worse...

Josuee Sanchez

Utah air quality is deteriorating and could get worse

Utah is lacking of good air quality due to wildfires but it is mostly because of the hot weather.

2 days ago

Vehicles pass by a sign showing solidarity amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Murray on Sunday, April 12...

Heather Peterson

Youth mental health in Utah improving, post-pandemic

The latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 37% of respondents reported feeling so sad or hopeless that they changed their usual activities.

3 days ago

A husband and wife's heartfelt effort to raise funds for a friend battling cancer has blossomed int...

Eric Cabrera

Ink Against Cancer: Fundraising for a good cause

A husband and wife's heartfelt effort to raise funds for a friend battling cancer has blossomed into a foundation, Ink Against Cancer.

7 days ago

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

Tips for booking your next vacation

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Claire Newell, Founder of Travel Best Bets, to learn her tips on booking a great vacation.

8 days ago

MaryAnn Gerber puts sunscreen on her daughter at their home in Layton in June of 2023. Utah's rate ...

Tammy Kikuchi and Simone Seikaly

Here’s why Utah has the highest rate of melanoma in the nation

In a recent 4-year period, Utah rate of skin cancer diagnoses was nearly double the national average.

12 days ago

Two chickens are pictured. Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry like chicken...

Josuee Sanchez

Salmonella cases in Utah linked to backyard poultry

We are starting to see some salmonella cases in Utah, linked to backyard chickens. An Epidemiologist with the Utah Department shares insight.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Diet soda doesn’t have to lead to weight loss, court rules