American billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates spends much of his time considering how innovations can eradicate poverty and better global health. He also really, really likes Diet Coke — a habit that might curb his enjoyment of other sweet treats.
In a recent Telegraph profile of Gates, Joe Cerrell of the Gates Foundation, divulges that Gates’s traveling habits include “hotel rooms full of Diet Coke,” as well as “cheeseburgers for lunch, no matter who you are.” While Gates can easily be teased about his 16-year-old gamer diet, it isn’t necessarily something that he’s been trying to hide. See exhibit A: Gates drinking three Diet Cokes, while in conversation with Bono. Or exhibit B: his blog post where Gates admits readily that he might have three or four Diet Cokes a day.
Gates may have no shame when it comes to his Diet Coke indulgence (it may even be at the root of why he is BFFs with breakfast Oreo-eating Warren Buffet), but what he should be concerned about is whether the diet beverage has prevented him from enjoying the joie de vivre that is desserts. A 2012 study in Physiology & Behavior found that the cognitive reward process of diet soda drinkers was unusually altered. Habitual diet soda drinking, the researchers found, made it harder for the brain to distinguish between real and artificial sugar — eventually causing a degree of numbness to the pleasurable experience of consuming actual sugar.
This might also explain, the researchers theorize, why consuming diet sodas is actually linked to an increase in weight gain. Besides the mental game that Big Sugar has played, convincing us that diet sodas are the healthier choice, the delay in reward might signal to you that you should grab that second (or third) Diet Coke.
Whether or not Bill Gates — an emblem of the advancement of health — has damaged his own health with the consumption of Diet Coke, is unclear, but it is likely that he’s majorly battered his chance of enjoying a nice ice cream sundae. But, being worth $81.9 billion probably helps ease the pain.