A study in the Jan. 22 edition of Circulation suggests that drinking diet soda may increase your chance of developing metabolic syndrome.
To evaluate the link between nutrition and metabolic syndrome, researchers from the University of Minnesota analyzed the daily diets of more than 9,514 men and women between the ages of 45 and 64 enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
After following the health of these individuals for nine years, there were 3,782 reports of metabolic syndrome, a condition diagnosed by physicians based on the presence of several risk factors thought to increase an individual’s risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke such as abdominal adiposity, elevated blood pressure, high blood triglyceride levels, unhealthy cholesterol levels and elevated blood sugar.
According to the researchers, a “Western” diet rich in refined grains, fried food and red-meat was associated with an 18% increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Ok, fine. We’ve been shouting it from the rooftops that a diet rich in grains should, under no circumstances, be considered a healthy diet (and don’t even get us started on the USDA food pyramid – 6-11 servings of grain per day? Are they kidding??)
However, what is sort of surprising was the finding that drinking diet soda was associated with a 34% higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
Calling the link between diet soda and increased metabolic syndrome risk “interesting,” a co-author of the study says that the association warrants more research. She hypothesizes that it could be due to a chemical additive in the soda (and we here at Mark’s Daily Apple have long said that if you can’t say it, you probably shouldn’t be consuming it!), but also suggests that it may be due to “something about the behavior of diet soda drinkers.”
Previous research has suggested that some diet soda drinkers actually eat more because they feel like they are “saving” calories by opting for a diet drink instead of a full-sugar beverage (you know the sorts, the ones who supersize their fast food meal but go for a diet Coke because they’re cutting back!) but surely, that can’t be the case for everyone?
The real lesson here? Just because diet soda is marketed as a healthier alternative to its sugar-laden regular soda peers, doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for you. In fact, if you’re judging food based on the amount of nutrients it provides, diet soda should never even factor in as something that should be included in your diet! But you all know that already… 😉