Diet Soda Consumption Tied to Depression

01/14/2013

 

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Thinkstock

It’s nearly 4 pm and your eyes are feeling heavy at your desk. You’re fighting back yawns and struggling to focus on the task at hand. In an effort to stay awake, you reach for a diet soda.

If you’re a regular consumer of diet beverages, then a new study from the National Institutes of Health should give you reason to pause.

Diet Soda Research

Diet soda drinkers are more likely than regular soda drinkers to be depressed. Researchers found that people who drank four or more sodas daily were 22 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with depression. That number increased to 31 percent for diet soda drinkers and sky rocketed to 51 percent for diet fruit beverage consumers. Coffee drinkers, on the other hand, were 10 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with depression, according to US News.

The NIH study followed more than 250,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71, studying their beverage consumption between 1995 and 1996. A decade later, researchers asked participants if they had been diagnosed with depression since 2000. 

"Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk," Honglei Chen, who led the study, said in a statement reported on US News. "More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors."

Researchers emphasize that this is an association, not a link. 

Diet Soda and Vascular Events

Research has already found an association between diet soda consumption and a strikingly abnormal increased risk of vascular events. I wrote on TreeHugger that one study at Columbia University and University of Miami, found that those that consumed diet soda every day had a 61 percent increased risk of vascular events such as stroke or heart attack than those that drank none.

Ten years ago we thought that diet soda consumption was an acceptable evil because although it had no health benefits, there were few proven health issues. Slowly research is beginning to change this perception. 

 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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