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Drinking Diet Soda Regularly Associated With Growing Waistlines

Last updated June 1, 2016

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concludes that drinking high amounts of soda may have a significant contribution to belly fat and increase the risk for heart diseases and metabolic syndrome.

Strong evidence has shown that consuming too much sugar can cause insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Added sugar is the leading contributor to obesity in both children and adults. Americans consume an average of 19 teaspoons of added sugar per day. According to the American Heart Association, men should consume no more than 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons whereas women should not take more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. Many individuals are trying to cut down on the amount of added sugar and calories consumed in their diet and have resorted to natural and artificial sweeteners.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concludes that drinking high amounts of soda may have a significant contribution to belly fat and increase the risk for heart diseases and metabolic syndrome. This study focused on diet soda, and the results suggested that, even though, the amount of diet soda consumed has risen over the past three decades, obesity has increased during that same period.

Lead author Sharon Fowler and colleagues analyzed data from the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA), involving 749 Mexican- and European-Americans aged 65 and older that enrolled between 1992 and 1996. The researchers measured the participants’ diet soda intake, waist circumference, height, and weight on three separate occasions. Over the past 9.5 years of follow-up, the researchers found each group had the following growth in waist circumference:

  • 0.80 inches for non-users
  • 1.83 inches for occasional users
  • 3.16 inches for daily users.

"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," Fowler adds.

Previous studies have shown that “abdominal obesity” was strongly linked to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Even if the individual is not overweight, a large waist may cause death from heart disease, cancer, and any cause compared to those with a slim waist.

From all the research on the effects of sugar, including the one discussed here, it would appear that high sugar intake on a regular basis is bad for individuals in any age group.  It is well known that life expectancy has increased steadily over the past several decades. Given the knowledge of the diseases high sugar consumption could lead or contribute to, a conscious effort is needed from everyone to curb daily sugar intake if living a long and healthy life is desired.

Written by Stephen Umunna


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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 1, 2016
Last updated: June 1, 2016