As new research from Imperial College London's School of Public Health says that diet
drinks make no difference to your weight - and certainly shouldn't be seen as a
healthy option, there's more reason than ever to rid yourself of diet drinks. They were once billed as the guilt-free alternative to your sugary drink fix, but they could be doing as much harm to our waistlines as their sugar-packed siblings - and even more damage to our health. Read on to find out why you should ditch that aspartame habit today...
1. They could make you fat
Diet drinks could derail your diet! On average, the waist measurements of people who drink two or more diet soft drinks a day increase by five times as much as non-drinkers over the course of a decade. Scientists believe that artificial sweeteners trigger hormonal changes which stimulate appetite and encourage the body to store fat.
2. They could ruin your smile
Diet soft drinks can cause as much damage to tooth enamel as their sugary counterparts. It's all down to their acid content. In fact, habitual diet soda drinkers suffer the same degree of erosion as methamphetamine users.
3. They could hinder your fertility
In a recent survey of women undergoing IVF treatment, regular consumption of diet soft drinks or artificially sweetened hot drinks was associated with decreased fertility rates, poorer quality eggs and increased rates of embryo deformities. Similar risks were associated with the consumption of sugary drinks.
4. They could increase your cancer risk
Animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners could increase the risk of developing certain kinds of cancers, including urinary and bladder cancers.
5. They could give you migraines or seizures
Dr Mary D. Eades estimates that aspartame (a sweetener found in most low-calorie fizzy drinks) triggers migraines in 10% of all migraine patients. One study found that aspartame increased migraine frequency in 50% of sufferers, along with symptoms such as dizziness, shaking and vision disturbance. In monkeys, moderate and high doses of aspartame, administered over a seven month period, have been linked with severe brain seizures.
6. They could impede kidney function
In a group of nurses followed over twenty years, those who drank at least two diet sodas a day experienced a 30% reduction in kidney function compared with non-drinkers. Sugary versions were not associated with increased dysfunction.
7. They could give you brittle bones
Fizzy drinks could increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Both diet and regular soda drinkers exhibit reductions in mineral bone density versus non-drinkers, even when calcium and vitamin D intake are controlled for.
8. They could increase your risk of developing diabetes
Those who drink at least 400ml of diet or regular soda per day are 2.4 times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes. Drink a litre (that's three standard cans) and your risk increases tenfold. Researchers speculate that the effect of artificial sweeteners on glucose tolerance may be mediated by their effects on gut bacteria.
9. They could make you more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke
Those who drink at least one diet soft drink a day are 43% more likely to experience a vascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, according to research.
10. They're associated with an increased risk of depression
Over a ten year period, those who drink four cans of diet or regular soda per day are 30% more likely to be diagnosed with depression.