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Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Can Diet Soda Make You Fat?

Are over-65 diet soda drinkers more likely to gain weight? A recent study says yes.

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Diet CokeThe average American drinks over 50 gallons of soft drinks each year. At 150 calories per can, that can add up to a whole lot of sugar. Many people choose diet drinks as a substitute for sugar-sweetened soda, expecting to lose weight while still getting a sugary fix. But a recent study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, reported at this year’s American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions, suggested that seniors age 65 and up who drink the most diet soda are also more likely to gain weight.

This is not the first time that diet sodas have been linked to less-than-healthy outcomes. While the diet drinks themselves are probably not responsible, they do nothing to dull a sweet tooth, and that is probably the reason that they don’t help us to lose weight. By choosing artificially sweetened drinks, we fool ourselves into believing that we are saving calories, and that we are entitled to splurge on other goodies.

Water is always the best choice for hydration. If it’s soda you crave, try plain or flavored (but not sweetened) seltzer water. Alternatively, mix a little juice into some club soda to get a fix of sweetness, but with fewer calories than full-strength juice. If you are trying to lose weight, keep a food diary to help you to stay accountable.

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Tags: Diet and Heart Health , Weight and Heart Health

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About the Author


MD, FACC

Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.

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