NUTRITION&FOOD Published March18, 2015 By Staff Reporter

Why Diet Soda Drinkers Are At Risk Of Belly Fat

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Diet Soda
(Photo : Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News) Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that have negative effects on the health.

Sometimes, going for diet sodas instead of the regular ones may cut out some calories. However a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that increased diet soda intake is associated to a bigger belly in adults 65 years of age and older.

Turning to the various diet versions of foods and drinks may be good to believe. However, the findings of the study raised concerns on the safety of chronic diet soda intake which may lead to increased abdominal obesity and increased risk for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized as a condition that may lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.9 billion adults are overweight in 2014. From this number, around 600 million people are obese.

Many people cut on their intake of calories to lose weight especially those that come from sugar-rich drinks. Due to the lack of discipline to stop drinking sodas, most of them turn to diet versions.

"Our study seeks to fill the age gap by exploring the adverse health effects of diet soda intake in individuals 65 years of age and older," explains lead author Sharon Fowler, MPH, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio told Science Daily. "The burden of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, along with healthcare costs, is great in the ever-increasing senior population," he added.

Their findings were from the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) wherein they enrolled 749 adults at the start of the study in 1992 to 1996. Baseline data like diet soda intake, waist circumference, height, and weight were measured and three follow-ups were incurred. At the first follow-up there were 474 (79.1%) surviving participants; there were 413 (73.4%) at the second follow-up and 375 (71.0%) at the third follow-up.

They found out that there was an increase in waist circumference among diet soda drinkers per follow up. It was almost triple than those who are not drinking diet sodas.  There are three predictions on why this happened. First, diet soda changes the bacteria in the gut and intestines which can alter the metabolism. Second, the artificial sweetness can trick the pancreas in releasing too much hormones and insulin is known to store fat. Lastly, diet drinks may trick the brain to splurge on calories from other sources.

"The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardiometabolic risk in older adults," Fowler concludes. They recommend for older adults to reduce drinking beverages that have artificial sweeteners in them.

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