Diet-Soda and Belly Fat: Here's What You Need to Know

 , NDTV  |  Updated: March 18, 2015 19:48 IST

Diet-Soda and Belly Fat: Here's What You Need to Know

'A glass of Diet-**** with some ice and lime please!'

If you're one of those people who recklessly drink countless cans of diet-soda because the word 'diet' grabs your attention, then you won't like what we have to say next. Diet-soda is bad! It's bad for your health, bad for your weight and bad for your waistline. In the past, health experts, nutritionists and doctors have accused diet-soda for its potential risks to human health. Many studies have also linked diet-soda with obesity, cancer and heart problems. Now, a new study that explores the link between diet-soda and your waistline pegs diet-soda as your biggest new enemy!

(Sugary Drinks May Age You Faster)

According to a study published in the Journal of the 'American Geriatrics Society', people who drank diet-soda over a period of nine years or more gained triple the belly fat than those who didn't. To ensure that no other factors were at play, researchers factored in elements like diabetes, smoking and the level of physical activity in the study.

Results of the Study

The study analysed around 749 people aged 65 and above. These people were asked every couple of years about how many cans a day did they drink and what was the ratio of diet versus regular soda. People who didn't drink diet soda saw a 0.8 inch increase around their waist. Those who drank diet soda gained 3.2 inch, which as you can see is triple the width. Occasional drinkers of diet soda gained around 1.8 inch around their belly.


The Big Belly!

Having a belly which is larger than usual doesn't just raise questions on how good or bad it makes you look, but also creates a bigger health concern. According to a study that appeared in the journal 'Heart', a big belly can increase the risk of sudden cardiac death. 'Those with the highest waist-to-hip ratio had more than double the risk of sudden cardiac death compared with those in the normal range'.

(Big Belly, Bigger the Heart Risk)

Another study that was published in the journal 'American College of Cardiology', suggested how the concentration of fat in certain areas on an individual's body may increase the risk of developing chronic ailments. Unfortunately, belly fat is also a sign for Type 2 diabetes.

(Belly Fat May Trigger High Blood Pressure)

People that were already overweight or obese put on more weight. You'd think that obese people might be highly motivated to drink diet-soda for weight management, but obese people had the worst stories. Studies like these make you question the validity of the word 'diet' in 'diet soda'.

Diet-sodas are strategically positioned in a way that makes you feel that you don't have to make a choice between health and taste. They're a food manufacturers dream come true and were conceptualized as a brilliant way to capitalize on the existing success of sodas or colas and gather the attention of even the most self-conscious of people. And that's exactly what it did.

Dr.Simran Saini, dietician at Fortis Hospital believes that "diet soda is better than regular soda because it's got fewer calories, sugar and carbohydrates but it's equally damaging. In a different way of course. It's high on caffeine which could cause dizziness, anxiety or dehydration. And if consumed in large quantities, after a while it could cause withdrawal symptoms, headache and mood swings."

Your Body Could Crave Diet-Soda!

She added, "If you are drinking diet coke to avoid those calories and lose weight, it is interesting to notice that despite the diet drink your body craves for sugar and after the soda session you may be hunting for sugary foods to end your cravings resulting in increasing waistlines. So diet coke can be a treat but not a regular part or replacement of meals on your weight loss program."

(20 Minutes of This Can Reduce Stubborn Belly Fat)

Diet-soda also comes in different varieties like zero-calorie or no-sugar but even then expand waistlines. Researchers decided to explore this further and found that sugar-free sodas contain substances that sweeten the soda at 200 to 600 times the sweetness of sugar.

Real Sugar vs Artificial Sugar

Listen to the latest songs, only on

When you consume real sugar, it makes you feel satisfied and full. On some level, you know you're ingesting energy which you will have to burn off. So that it doesn't turn into fat. However, artificial sweeteners confuse our bodies to a point that it can't differentiate between sweet and calories which could lead to binge eating.

Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and one of the researchers said, "People who are already at cardiometabolic risk because they have higher BMIs are really in double or triple jeopardy. When they think they're doing something good by drinking artificially sweetened beverages, it's actually totally counterproductive."


As Dr. Simran Saini concludes by saying, "Diet sodas are just empty calories and you'd be much better off without them."

For the latest food news, health tips and recipes, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and YouTube.
Tags:  Sugary Drinks