Science

Diet drinks linked to heart issues, study finds

PHOTO CREDITS: INSIDER

Artificially sweetened beverages, a new study has discovered, may be as bad for your heart as sugar-laden drinks.

“Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy substitute for sugar drinks, and these data provide additional arguments to fuel the current debate on taxes, labeling, and regulation of sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages,” said Lead Author Eloi Chazelas, a doctoral student and a member of the nutritional epidemiology research team at Sorbonne Paris Nord in university. 

Dr. Andrew Freeman, co-chairman of American College of Cardiology nutrition and lifestyle workgroup ( who was not involved in the group),  said, “We already know that sugar-sweetened beverages are bad news when it comes to cardiovascular and other health outcomes.”

A 2019 study found that women who drink more than two servings of sugary soda sports drinks and Juice defined as standard glass bottles had a 63% increased risk of premature death, and similarly, men who consumed the same had a 29% increase in the rate of premature death.

“A lot of people said, ‘Well, maybe diet sodas and artificially sweetened beverages are better than sugar-sweetened beverages.’ But there’s been recent evidence in the last couple years that would suggest that there are possible harms, if you will, from artificially sweetened beverages, particularly in women,” said Andrew Freeman. 

Danielle Smotkin, a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association informed CNN via e-mail, that low and no-calorie sweeteners have been deemed safe by regulatory bodies around the world and there is a substantial body of research, including a study by WHO, that show that these sweeteners are a useful tool for helping reduce sugar consumption and manage weight. 

“We support WHO’s call for people to reduce sugar in their diets and we’re doing our part by creating innovative beverages with less sugar or zero sugar, clean calorie labeling, responsible marketing practices, and smaller package sizes,” added Smotkin. 

The new research by the Journal of American College of Cardiology,  published on Monday, analyzed data from over 1,000,000 adult French volunteers participating in French NutriNet Santé. It is an ongoing nutrient study launched in 2009 that asks participants to fill out 3 validated, web-based, 24-hour dietary records every 6 months, the study is expected to be completed in 2029.”

The researchers have said that not having proper data is all major limitation because it makes it difficult to understand the relation of a specific artificial sweetener, a type of beverage with another hidden health issue.

“We know that people who consume diet sodas sometimes are already overweight or obese so you have to wonder what other confounders and lifestyle may already exist,”  said Freeman. “We also know that when you take in something sweet your body triggers insulin release and a number of other things that can sometimes even lead to weight gain.” 

However, this isn’t the first time that diet beverages have been associated with health issues. Drinking two or more of any kind of artificially sweetened drink a day was linked to an increased risk of clot-based strokes, heart attack, and early death of women over 50,” a 2019 study found. 

Women who were 20 or African American were at the highest risk of heart disease, the study found. Additionally, consuming 4 more artificially sweetened beverages increased the risk of premature death from cardiovascular diseases in women. The same effect was seen in men.

Freeman also said, “I tell them perfect beverages for human consumption remains water, probably always will be, and maybe a very close second of unsweetened tea and unsweetened coffee.” He concluded: “And the rest should not be consumed regularly – if at all.” 

ARTICLE: EJAZ SHAIKH

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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