Diet Soda And Metabolic Syndrome

In General, Nutrition by Mikki ReillyLeave a Comment

There’s been some interesting news on diet soda, and in particular, artificial sweeteners, recently.

First, in a study at the University of Minnesota, researchers analyzed the diets of more than 9,500 men and women between the ages of 45 and 64 for nine years to see if there was a correlation between nutrition and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms including obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

They found that a “Western” diet of refined grains, fried foods and red meat was associated with an 18 percent increased risk for metabolic syndrome. This was no big surprise since we know that a diet rich in grains is not a healthy diet.

But then they also discovered that those who drank one can of diet soda a day had a 34 percent increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome compared to those who drank no soda at all. This finding was quite by coincidence and was not hypothesized in the study.

When asked about the link between diet soda and metabolic syndrome, Lyn M. Steffen, co-author of the study, suggested that it may be due to “some kind of chemical in the diet soda or something about the behavior of diet soda drinkers.”

Then in another recent study, researchers at Purdue University reported that rats fed food containing the artificial sweetener saccharin gained more weight than rats fed food with sugar.

In this study, published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, nine rats were given yogurt sweetened with saccharin while eight rats were given yogurt sweetened with sugar. Then after, the rats were given their regular food.

At the end of five weeks, the researchers found that the rats fed the yogurt sweetened with saccharin were consuming more calories than the group fed the yogurt sweetened with sugar. And, that the saccharin group had increased their body fat by about a five percent.

Susan E. Swithers, an associate professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University said one possible explanation is that “artificial sweeteners lead to biological or behavioral changes that cause people to eat more.” She said that another study is needed to determine whether sweeteners have the same effect in people as in rats.

Statistically, the number of Americans who consume soda, yogurt and other products containing artificial sweeteners has more than doubled from 70 million in 1987 to 160 million in 2000. And over that same time period, obesity among U.S. adults has increased from 15 to a whopping 30 percent!

Perhaps sparking mineral water would be a better choice…

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