Is Diet Soda Making You Fat?

If you thought reaching for a can of diet soda was helping to maintain a slim waistline, you may have been “waisting” your time.

Two recent studies have shed some light on why diet soda, which has long been marketed as a healthier alternative to regular soda, may actually result major weight gain and serious health problems.

“They may be free of calories but not of consequences” said Dr. Helen Hazuda, a professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

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Dr. Hazuda and her research team followed 474 diet soda drinkers, ages 65 to 74, for nearly 10 years and made a sizable discovery. Literally. They found that diet soda drinkers’ waists grew 70 percent more than non-drinkers.

They presented their findings at an American Diabetes Association meeting on Sunday along with this shocking statistic: People who drank two or more diet sodas every day saw their waistbands expand at five times the rate of those who stayed away from diet soda all together.

The second study offers up a possible reason for the tipping of the scales by looking at the impact of artificial sweetener on obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

In this study, mice were put into two groups and one was fed the popular sugar substitute aspartame as an ingredient in their meals. After three months, the mice in the aspartame group had higher blood sugar levels than the mice eating normal food, which led the researchers to suggest that artificial sweetener “may in fact directly contribute to increased blood glucose levels, and thus may contribute to the associations observed between diet soda consumption and the risk of diabetes in humans.”

Sharon Fowler, an obesity researcher at UT Health Science Center at San Diego and a co-author of both studies pulled the findings together and presented them to The Daily Mail in a sweet package.

“Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but unlike regular sugars they don’t deliver something that will squelch the appetite,” she explained.

Quenching your thirst with water is your best bet, according to Dr. Hazuda.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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