A massive study led by researchers at Tufts University may give many people cause to consider cutting soft drinks out of their diet altogether, or at least reconsider the idea that diet soft drinks are better for your health than sugar-sweetened ones.
The study, which included nearly 60,000 participants, is one of the largest of its kind to date. Published in the journal Circulation, the study took nearly nine years to complete, following the participants, all post-menopausal women, through the years as they regularly reported their soft drink habits to the researchers.
By the end of the study, it was clear that there was a strong correlation between the amount of diet soft drinks the women consumed and their risk for heart attack and stroke. In fact, women who drank more than two diet sodas per day were a whopping fifty percent more likely to have died from a heart-related disease than women who did not drink diet soft drinks at all(1).
There was also a connection between high rates of diet soft drink consumption and other unhealthy lifestyle factors, like smoking and obesity. But even taking these other factors into account, the increased risk of cardiovascular problems among diet soft drink consumers remained.
Although the study was only designed to look for correlation, there have been many other studies linking soft drink consumption to a wide variety of health problems, including diabetes(2) and obesity(3).
Dr. Ankur Vyas, lead researcher on the study, cautions that “It’s too soon to tell people to change their behavior based on this study; however, based on these and other findings we have a responsibility to do more research to see what is going on and further define the relationship, if one truly exists,” adding that, “this could have major public health implications.”(4)
Cutting Down On Diet And Sugar-Sweetened Drinks
It’s been proven that cutting down on your diet soda consumption can help you lose weight, especially if you replace it with more health-conscious alternatives like natural juices and water. Generally, the less sugar and aspartame – along with other artificial sweeteners – that you consume in the form of beverages, the better. But many have been slow to accept that these drinks just aren’t good for you.
Hopefully, researchers will be able to use this new study to expand the field of research on the health impact of soft drinks, and develop public health initiatives that can properly address the overconsumption of these drinks. Until then, it’s up to individuals to read up on these health impacts independently and make their own choices based on the medical evidence.