Diet sodas are typically sugar-free, artificially sweetened versions of carbonated beverages. If you think replacing your regular soda with diet ones is the key to lose weight, you are wrong. The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) has indicated that frequent consumption of diet soda is linked to increase in waistline. These findings raise a red flag for seniors because fat around the waist includes not only fat just under the skin but also fat that accumulates around internal organs, which is linked with increased inflammation and risk of metabolic disease, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer and mortality.
Researchers analyzed data on health status and lifestyles of 749 Mexican-American and European-American elders, aged 65 and older, and then tracked the health outcomes in 466 survivors for more than nine years. Helen P. Hazuda, professor at The University of Texas, and lead researcher for the study, said, "Among SALSA participants who reported that they did not consume any diet sodas, waist circumference increased less than 1 inch on average over the total follow-up period. Among participants who reported occasional use, drinking less than one diet soda a day, waist circumference increased almost 2 inches. And among those who consumed diet sodas every day, or more often than once a day, waist circumference increased over 3 inches."
Fowler said, "The increases in abdominal fat were more than 3 times as great in daily diet soda users as in non-users, during the very time in life when increasing waist circumference is associated with increased risk of these serious medical conditions, and mortality itself."
The paper has been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.