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17 March 2015 - Live Science - Diet Soda Linked to Increased Belly Fat in Older Adults

By Agata Blaszczak-Boxe

Older adults who drink diet soda may experience greater increases in their waist size over a decade than those who do not drink diet soda, according to a new study.

Researchers found that the average increase in waist circumference among the people in the study who drank diet soda daily was more than triple that of the people who did not drink diet soda.

Among the people who drank diet soda only occasionally, the increase was more than double that of those who did not drink diet soda.

"The more people drank diet sodas, the more their waistlines expanded," said study author Sharon Fowler, a researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Over the nine-year study, the waist size of the people who didn't drink any soda increased by an average of 0.8 inches. The average increase was 1.83 inches among those who drank diet soda occasionally, and 3.16 inches among those who drank it daily, according to the study.

Increased belly fat, which is usually what causes increased waist circumference, may raise people's risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues because it increases inflammation, Fowler said.

The new study adds to a growing body of research on the potentially harmful effects of diet soda on human health.

In the new study, the researchers said that it is not clear exactly why drinking diet soda may be linked to an increase in waist circumference.

But it may have something to do with the sweeteners used in diet soda, and the way they may affect food-intake regulation, Fowler said.