Artificial sweeteners increase the chances of growing belly fat, with associated health risksMd Noman Siddique (Author) Published Date : Mar 18, 2015 07:43 IST
A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that consuming diet cokes that have been sweetened with artificial sweeteners increases the risks of growing belly fat, and this in turn has been linked to unpleasant health complications.
It is true that most people like and enjoy consuming diet coke among other beverages, but it stands to reason that it increases the chances of increase belly fat in persons aged 65 and above, with consequence risks of being overweight, obese, diabetic, and suffering heart attack and strokes. Increased diet soda intake also leads to metabolic syndrome which makes for high blood pressure and cardiovascular events among others.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1.9 billion people are overweight in 2014 with nearly 600 million out of these obese.
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, explains lead author Sharon Fowler, MPH, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio told Science Daily. The burden of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, along with healthcare costs, is great in the ever-increasing senior population, he added.
The researchers were able to come to this conclusion after they enrolled 749 adults into the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) research that was conducted between 1992 to 1996. Based on the soda intake of the participants, their waist circumference, height, weight, and other body measurements were taken before the study commenced, and at three other periods into the study.
The researchers were only able to find 474 (79.1%) surviving participants during the first follow-up; 413 (73.4%) living participants during the second follow-up; and 375 (71.0%) surviving participants during the third follow-up and as the researchers would know, the cause of death was not unconnected to their health conditions as influenced by the level of diet cokes they consumed over time.
The scientists discovered that the waist circumference of those that drank diet sodas increased per follow-up, and their belly fat nearly tripled those that never took any diet sodas or artificially-sweetened drinks. And the reason for this could be explained away by the medical researchers:
The artificial sweeteners contained in the diet soda change the amount and activity of bacteria resident in the gut and intestines, thereby altering the metabolic activity of these participants. Again, the artificial sweeteners cause the pancreas to release too much insulin among other hormones, triggering the storage of body fat around the abdomen and belly. And lastly, the diet coke activates the brain to release calories from other sources, triggering the buildup of fat and associated weight and cardiovascular risks.
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, advising that adults should refrain from consuming drinks that have been artificially-sweetened.
Artificial sweeteners increase the chances of growing belly fat, with associated health risks