Diet fizzy drinks, artificial sweeteners ‘do not raise obesity, diabetes risk’

April 19th, 2011 - 1:46 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Apr 19 (ANI): A study has found that diet fizzy drinks and other artificially sweetened beverages do not cause diabetes, as had previously been thought.

Researchers at Harvard University said that while regular soda and other sugary drinks can increase a person’s risk of diabetes, drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, coffee or tea will not.

“There are multiple alternatives to regular soda. Diet soda is perhaps not the best alternative, but moderate consumption is not going to have any appreciable harmful effects,” the Daily Mail quoted Frank Hu, one of the study’s authors, as saying.

Prior studies had suggested that people who drink diet soda regularly might be more likely to get diabetes than those who stay away from artificially sweetened drinks.

But the recent latest study indicated the link is a result of other factors common to both diet soda drinkers and people with diabetes, including being overweight.

Hu and his colleagues analysed data from more than 40,000 men who were followed between 1986 and 2006, during which time they were questioned about their medical status and dietary habits, including their drink consumption.

About 7 percent of the men reported that they were diagnosed with diabetes at some point in the study.

Men who drank the most sugar-sweetened beverages, about one serving a day on average, were 16 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than men who never drank those beverages.

The link was mostly due to soda and other carbonated beverages. Drinking non-carbonated sugar-sweetened fruit drinks such as lemonade was not linked with a higher risk of diabetes.

When nothing else was accounted for, men who drank a lot of diet soda and other diet drinks were also more likely to get diabetes.

But once the men’s weight, blood pressure and cholesterol were taken into account, those drinks were not related to diabetes risk.

“People who are at risk of diabetes or obesity, may be the people who are more likely to choose artificial sweeteners because they may be more likely to be dieting,” Rebecca Brown, an endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Health, said.

Drinking coffee on a daily basis, both regular and decaffeinated, was linked to a lower risk of diabetes, perhaps due to antioxidants or vitamins or minerals in coffee.

Brown, who has studied artificial sweeteners but was not involved in the current research, added that while there are still some health concerns about artificial sweeteners, none have been proven.

“I certainly think that we have better evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases health risks,” she said.

“Certainly reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by any means (including substitution with diet drinks) is probably a good thing,” she added.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (ANI)

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