Just when you thought you had this whole diet thing under control, the scientists set about their nefarious studies once again. This time their target is diet soda. Is nothing sacred? Does not the name itself - Diet - vouch for its inherent goodness?
While studying the effect of regular soda consumption, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine took a bit of a side trip. They decided to take a look at a subset of data that allowed them to analyze the impact of diet soda. The study included data on roughly 6,000 middle-aged men and women.
The news is not good. Like its cousin, the full-caloried soda, diet soda consumption has a down side. Those study participants drinking one or more diet sodas per day showed a 50% increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a conglomerate of risk factors, including additional weight around the mid-section, high blood pressure, low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and other symptoms.
Individuals with metabolic syndrome have double the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Double... From a can of diet soda?
The researchers are unsure of how this works. They speculate: the sweet taste of the diet soda may predispose drinkers to consume other sweet foods; since the soda is liquid, it may not fill people up, leaving room for more calories; the caramel coloring may, in some unknown fashion, be the culprit.
Or... it may not even be the case. The researchers are quick to point out that further studies are needed to replicate the current findings. Until then, the association between diet soda and metabolic syndrome raises concerns, but proves nothing. Isn't science grand?
What to do? Well, until further proof emerges, it seems reasonable to continue your regular diet. After all, what goes better with a double cheeseburger and onion rings than a sensible diet soda?To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read about the health benefits of drinking plain old, wonderful water, see this from Mayo Clinic.