When given the choice between diet soda and regular soda, the calorie-free option may not be the lesser of two evils. A recent study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that diet soda may also lead to more belly fat, especially as you get older.[contentblock id=1 img=adsense.png]
Researchers looked at data from 749 adults over the age of 65 from the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. They found that, over the course of almost 10 years, those who drank diet soda daily saw the growth of their waist circumferences more than double that of non-diet soda drinkers.
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The University of Texas study showed that in over-65s, at least, drinking artificially sweetened fizzy drinks has a radical effect on the waistline – tripling gains around the waist across a ten-year period.
Previous research shows that in the past 30 years, use of artificial sweeteners and diet fizzy drink intake have increased in our food and drink – but in the same time period, obesity has also increased.
A 2014 study published in the journal Nature suggested that diet fizzy drinks could cause weight gain due to artificial sweeteners altering the body’s natural gut bacteria.
Lead author Sharon Fowler, MPH, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said: ‘The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity.’
The study focused on 749 adults aged 65 and older – and measured their diet drink consumption, waist size and weight at three follow-up meetings over a decade.
The research found that diet drink users had an increase in waist circumference almost triple that of non-users – and that people who drank artificially sweetened drinks daily fared the worst.
The researchers write that they saw ‘waist circumference increases of 0.80 inches for non-users, 1.83 inches for occasional users, and 3.16 inches for daily users over the total 9.4-year SALSA follow-up period’.
The authors recommend that older individuals should try to curb their consumption of artificially sweetened drinks.