Diet Soda Linked to Increased Belly Fat in Older Adults

Older adults who drink diet soda may experience greater increases in their waist size over a decade than those who do not drink diet soda, according to a new study. Researchers found that the average increase in waist circumference among the people in the study who drank diet soda daily was more than triple that of the people who did not drink diet soda. Among the people who drank diet soda only occasionally, the increase was more than double that of those who did not drink diet soda.

“The more people drank diet sodas, the more their waistlines expanded,” said study author Sharon Fowler, a researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Over the nine-year study, the waist size of the people who didn’t drink any soda increased by an average of 0.8 inches. The average increase was 1.83 inches among those who drank diet soda occasionally, and 3.16 inches among those who drank it daily, according to the study.

In the study, the researchers followed a total of 749 Mexican Americans and European Americans who were 65 or older when the study started. The researchers asked them about their diet soda intake, and measured their waist circumference, height and weight when the study began, and at three follow-up points during the study period. Increased belly fat, which is usually what causes increased waist circumference, may raise people’s risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues because it increases inflammation, Fowler said.

The new study adds to a growing body of research on the potentially harmful effects of diet soda on human health. In a study presented in 2011 at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles, researchers found that people who drink diet soda every day may have an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. In another study, published in 2012 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, investigators also found a link between daily diet soda consumption and stroke, heart attack and death from these two conditions. Via Diet Soda Linked to Increased Belly Fat in Older Adults.

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