Ut Health Science Center In a constant effort to get into shape, people opt for diet soda. But what they probably don’t realize is that this action may just be turning the tables for them. A study conducted at the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio has presented that diet soft drink consumption may be linked to increased waistline in humans. A second study proclaims the presence of aspartame raised fasting glucose similar to blood sugar in mice that are prone to diabetes.

In order to gauge the association between diet soft drink consumption and long-term alteration in waist circumference, the Health Science Center team examined information from 474 participants in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging, or SALSA for 2 long decades.

“Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised. They may be free of calories but not of consequences,” remarked Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology in the School of Medicine.

Parameters of height, weight, waist circumference, and diet soda intake were noted at SALSA enrollment. Three follow-up exams were undertaken over the next decade. The follow-up was conducted at an average of 9.5 years. A comparison was drawn between long term waist circumference for people who consumed diet soda and those who didn’t in all the follow up tests. Factors such as waistline, diabetic condition, leisure hours, physical activeness, home neighborhood, age, smoking status, sex, ethnicity and educational years were taken into account at the start of follow-up trials.

Diet soft drink users, as a set apparently encountered a 70 percent rise in waist circumference as compared to non-users. Those who drank diet soda 2 or 3 times a day seemingly developed a waistline that measured 50 percent higher than those who didn’t consume soda.

Abdominal mass seems to present higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other lethal disorders. The study suggests that though the drive to reduce consumption of sugar sweetened drinks is ongoing, certain policies that seem to encourage the consumption of soft drinks may lead to unintentional injurious effects.

In another related study, scientists compared oral exposure to aspartame and fasting glucose with insulin proportions in 40 diabetes-prone mice. Aspartame is a kind of artificial sweetener that is usually used in diet sodas and other related products.

One set of mice consumed chow that comprised of added aspartame and corn oil while the other group was fed chow with corn oil but devoid of aspartame. After three months of living on this high-fat diet, the mice which consumed aspartame displayed higher levels of fasting glucose and fading levels of insulin running parallel to early deterioration of pancreatic beta-cell function. Statistics of insulin levels between the 2 groups didn’t appear to be prominent. Beta cells result in the production of insulin and imbalance in the proportions may cause diabetes.

The study reveals that exposing oneself to heavy aspartame may directly affect the blood glucose levels by increasing their amount and eventually contribute to the relation found between diet soda consumption and the risk of diabetes in humans.

Both the studies were presented at the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions.