Diet soda drinkers beware. Although most weight-conscious folks drink diet sodas to save on calories and sugar, new research suggests that the popular substitutes can actually increase the likelihood that drinkers will pack on the pounds and raise their risk of diabetes.
Scientists at the University of Texas, San Antonio studied data from 474 elderly Mexican and European Americans. The two-decade study concluded that the waistlines of diet soda drinkers expanded dramatically.
Science Daily reports:
Measures of height, weight, waist circumference and diet soda intake were recorded at SALSA enrollment and at three follow-up exams that took place over the next decade. The average follow-up time was 9.5 years. The researchers compared long-term change in waist circumference for diet soda users versus non-users in all follow-up periods. The results were adjusted for waist circumference, diabetes status, leisure-time physical activity level, neighborhood of residence, age and smoking status at the beginning of each interval, as well as sex, ethnicity and years of education.
Diet soft drink users, as a group, experienced 70 percent greater increases in waist circumference compared with non-users. Frequent users, who said they consumed two or more diet sodas a day, experienced waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than those of non-users.
Moreover, researchers have also found that our previously held ideas that diet sodas are healthy alternatives are wrong.
“Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised,” said Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology in the School of Medicine. “They may be free of calories but not of consequences.”
Belly fat increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other life-threatening ailments, which causes researchers to be concerned about the link between diet sodas and increased waist circumference.
If a larger waistline wasn’t enough, a related study found that the artificial sweetners found in diet soft drinks may also spell disaster for those at-risk for diabetes.
Gabriel Fernandes, Ph.D. explains:
“These results suggest that heavy aspartame exposure might potentially directly contribute to increased blood glucose levels, and thus contribute to the associations observed between diet soda consumption and the risk of diabetes in humans,”
Many of us turn to diet drinks to cut the calories, limit our sugar intake and keep the weight off, but the sweet-tasting, no-cal supplements might be doing more harm than good.
– Britni Danielle