Diet Soda Linked to Increased Belly Fat in Older Adults

Diabetics who opt for diet soda as an alternative to sugary drinks may face a new health risk: abdominal obesity.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that older adults who increased their diet soda intake were more likely to put on dangerous belly fat – the type of fat that is closely linked to metabolic syndrome.

While there have been several studies on diet soda consumption, many of them have focused on middle-aged and young adults. The current study, the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA), looked at an older population, including 749 adults over the age of 65.

"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," said lead study author Sharon Fowler, MPH.

Triple the waist circumference

Among the findings, researchers reported that waist circumference increase among diet soda drinkers was almost triple what it was in participants who didn't drink diet soda.

For daily diet soda drinkers, average waist growth over the nine-year follow-up period of the study was 3.16 inches.

The authors also noted that consumption of diet soda and artificial sweeteners has increased over the past 30 years, yet obesity rates are still climbing.

"The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardiometabolic risk in older adults," Fowler said.

Older adults who are daily diet soda drinkers should cut back, the authors concluded, especially if they already have metabolic risk factors.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source: EurekAlert!

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