Increased diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity in adults 65 years of age and older, says a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Chronic diet soda consumption may increase belly fat and contribute to greater risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases, it said.
“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 author Sharon Fowler from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
The burden of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, along with health care costs, is great in the ever-increasing senior population.
In an effort to combat obesity, many adults try to reduce sugar intake by turning to non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin or sucralose.
The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) enrolled 749 Mexican- and European-Americans, who were aged 65 and older at the start of the study (1992-96).
Diet soda intake, waist circumference, height and weight were measured at study onset.
The findings indicate that the increase in waist circumference among diet soda drinkers was almost triple that among non-users at follow-up.
“The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardiometabolic risk in older adults,” Fowler added.
Older individuals who drink diet soda daily, particularly those at high cardiometabolic risk, should try to curb their consumption of artificially sweetened drinks, the authors said.