A recent study suggests a link between diet sodas and larger waistlines in those over 65. Yes, you read that correctly: DIET soda may be expanding our waistlines!
A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that increasing diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity in adults 65 years of age and older. These findings have raised concerns about the safety of chronic diet soda consumption, which may increase belly fat and contribute to greater risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases.
The study followed 700 people 65 or older for an average of nine years. They tracked their eating habits and health behaviors.
Those who never drank diet soda saw their waistlines grow by 0.8 inches over the course of the nine-year study. Occasional diet soda drinkers reported an increase of 1.8 inches around the waist. And those who drank diet sodas every day gained a whopping 3 inches around their waistlines.
In recent years, a number studies have suggested that artificially sweetened diet sodas may be associated with a wide variety of ills, including heart problems, depression and damaged teeth. However, a direct cause-and-effect link implicating diet soda has been elusive.
The new study aimed to understand how diet sodas affect the waistline over time. Scientists believe fat in the midsection of the body is especially dangerous to health. Metabolic syndrome—a combination of risk factors that may lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke—has been on the rise for years as Americans of all ages contend with an obesity epidemic.
But the question is: why would diet soda cause this? Researchers explored different options. Perhaps the drinks’ sweeteners were contributing to weight gain by disrupting the body’s sugar processing, making people more hungry.
“We’re being naive if we only look at the number of calories in the label. People may be sabotaging their own health if they use diet sodas to protect themselves from gaining weight,” said study author Sharon Fowler, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Fowler also wondered if people use diet sodas as an excuse to eat more because “they feel like they’re protected against eating too many calories,” she said.
Although the study, published on March 17, 2015, doesn’t come out with conclusive answers, the questions that are posed might be enough to make you think twice before you order that next diet cola.
by Donna Giachetti