We’re no fans of diet soft drinks. Add this to our list of reasons to abstain: a recently published study raises additional questions about artificially sweetened beverages. Close to 60,000 post-menopausal women with no heart problems participated in the study. They were divided into 4 group based on the amount of diet drinks they consumed. The women in the group that consumed 2 or more diet drinks per day ended up having a higher incidence of heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.
Digging into the data, the heavy diet drinkers tended to be more overweight and to smoke, so perhaps those were the reasons they got more sick. The researchers took this into account in their risk calculations and the 2 drinks a day cohort still had an increased chance for heart problems.
In animal studies, consumption of artificial sweeteners followed by regularly sweetened foods led to higher spikes in blood sugar. Artificial sweeteners also decreased the production of a certain heart-protective protein in those animals.
Keep in mind that human studies such as the one just published prove correlation, not causation. Yet most studies we’ve come across seem to correlate soft drinks (diet and calorically sweetened) with negative health outcomes. Diet soft drinks are not associated with being skinnier. Unless you are watching a commercial for Diet Coke or Pepsi.