Saturday, February 9, 2013

Study: Diet Soda Increases the Risk of Diabetes

One thing I never see: a thin person drinking a diet soda. The only people who consume these drinks are fatties. And clearly, drinking zero-calorie, artificially flavored drinks is not making them thin. A new study out of France suggests they may be worse for one's health than sugary sodas, and it is well established just how unhealthy eating any products with sugar is.

Yet another study confirms what people have been saying for ages: Stop drinking diet soda. Like, right now. Drinking just one 12-ounce can of an artificially sweetened fizzy drink per week can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 33 percent, French researchers found. And given that most people don't stop at a single weekly serving, your real risk for diabetes could actually be much higher.

This was no small study. It included more than 60,000 people, all women.

The study ... was conducted by France's National Institute of Health and Medical Research and covered 66,118 middle-aged women whose dietary habits and health were tracked from 1993 to 2007. ... Though it's well-known that people who consume a lot of sugar are more likely to develop diabetes, the researchers found that participants who drank "light" or "diet" soft drinks had a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than those who drank regular, sugar-filled sodas. Those who drank 100 percent natural squeezed fruit juices instead had no additional risk.

Part of the problem is that these sweeteners are chemically addictive. Users cannot stop at one drink.

Women who choose artificially flavored soft drinks usually drink twice as many of them as women who choose regular soda or juice—2.8 glasses per week compared to 1.6 glasses. "Yet when an equal quantity is consumed, the risk of contracting diabetes is higher for 'light' or 'diet' drinks than for 'non-light' or 'non-diet' drinks," the researchers, epidemiologists Francoise Clavel-Chapelon and Guy Fagherazzi, said in a statement. Women who drank up to 500 milliliters (about 12 ounces) of artificially sweetened beverages per week were 33 percent more likely to develop the disease, and women who drank about 600 milliliters (about 20 ounces) per week had a 66 percent increase in risk.

Diet sodas not only increase your chance of becoming a diabetic (by jacking up your insulin); they make you fat, too, because they increase your physical cravings for sugar.

Drinking sweetened beverages increases the risk of becoming overweight, which is itself a risk factor in developing diabetes. But the study didn't find that the results were the same even among overweight women. So how can artificially sweetened drinks be making the problem worse if they're fat- and calorie-free? "With respect, in particular, to 'light' or 'diet' drinks, the relationship with diabetes can be explained partially by a greater craving for sugar in general by female consumers of this type of soft drink," the researchers explained. "Furthermore, aspartame, one of the main artificial sweeteners used today, causes an increase in glycaemia and consequently a rise in the insulin level in comparison to that produced by sucrose."

The takeaway: stop drinking soda of all kinds. You would do well to stop drinking fruit juice and any other drinks with added sugars. Your best bet is to drink tap water. It will quench your thirst far better than all flavored drinks.

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