Drinking diet soda associated with increased abdominal fat in older people

As you may know if you're concerned about aging longevity, storing fat in the abdominal region has negative repercussions for cardiovascular health. However, if you've been drinking diet soda rather than the regular variety in an effort to cut calories, you may want to reconsider. A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society suggests that there is an association between diet soda consumption and increased waist circumference, i.e. belly fat, in people over 65.

Throughout the past 30 years, the average person's consumption of artificial sweeteners like the ones found in diet soda has increased dramatically. The substitution of these substances for sugar seems to have had little weight-loss effect, with obesity rates skyrocketing during the same period. To test whether diet soda is actually a good choice for dieters, researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio monitored the diet soda consumption of 749 subjects over the age of 65. 

After following this population for about nine years, the researchers found dramatic results: Daily diet soda drinkers' average waistlines increased more than three times as much as those of the subjects who never drank diet soda over the same time period. People who only occasionally drank diet soda fell somewhere in the middle, but still increased their waistlines by twice as much as the soda non-drinkers. 

Study author Sharon Fowler of the University of Texas wrote, "[This] study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardio-metabolic risk in older adults."

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