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Why you may not be dieting when you drink diet soda

by nickj on June 29, 2011

Most Americans have been there – they're craving some kind of sweet drink, reach for a can of Coke and then recoil, shaking their head. Not today, they think, and reach for the Diet Coke instead. The healthier decision? 

New research suggests that it may not be. Time magazine reports that some of the ingredients in that Diet Coke actually cause some pretty negative side effects, including weight again, according to a study conducted at the University of San Antonio.

The team examined 474 older Americans and found that those who said they had a steady habit of drinking diet soda experienced a 70 percent increase to their waistlines after 9.5 years, compared to those who didn't indulge in the beverages. And if the participants consumed two or more beverages a day, their overall waistline growth was 500 percent greater than the non-drinkers.

Researchers speculate that because the body responds to artificial sugars by preparing for calories that never arrive, it may cause excessive eating and prompt the body to store more calories as fat, the news source reports. Another study has even caused scientists to hypothesize that diet soda may contribute to Type 2 diabetes.

Findings from earlier this year showed that this supposedly healthier beverage may not protect against other risks associated with normal soft drinks, either. This includes "vascular events" such as strokes or heart attacks.

"If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes," said lead author Hannah Gardener. Part of this outcome also seemed linked to an increased amount of salt in a person's diet – stroke risk increased 16 percent for every 500 mg of sodium consumed a day.  

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