A study using older adults finds that the frequency of drinking diet soda is linked to increases in long-term waist circumference.
749 Mexican-American and European-American participants, all aged 65 and older, were tracked for nine years by the University of Texas Health Science Centre, United States.
The study, known as the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA), examined how many diet sodas they consumed, with waist circumferences measured at follow-up visits. The mean of follow-ups was 2.64, with 474 survivors completing all three.
The participants who did not consume any diet sodas only had a waist increase of less than one inch, on average. For occasional use, the increased was an average of two inches, while those drinking more than one a day had an average increase of over three inches.
Diabetes risk
While the increase of diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, this fat developing under the skin and around internal organs – known as visceral fat – can also increase the risk of inflammation, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
The risk of visceral fat increases as waistlines expand in older age, while the risk of developing diabetes subsequently increases.
In the SALSA study, variable such as diabetes, smoking and physical activity were considered, with senior author Dr Helen P. Hazuda reporting: “Even when you adjust for those things, you have this independent effect of diet soda consumption on waist circumference change over time.”
“These results are consistent with findings from a number of other observational studies of increased long-term risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and other major medical problems among daily diet soda users,” Hazuda added.

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