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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Jenna Holtzman often finds herself annoyed when she makes a trip to the soda machines on campus.

"I feel like every time I want to buy a Diet Pepsi, they are all sold out," the UF sophomore said. "Everyone else seems to like it as much as I do."

Holtzman has been drinking diet soda on a daily basis for several years. It tastes good and helps her stay slim, she said.

But a new study suggests that the beverage may not have the health benefits that its drinkers desire.

A research team from the University of Minnesota and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found a correlation between drinking diet soda and developing metabolic syndrome, the cluster of risk factors that include high blood pressure, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity.

In a paper published Jan. 22 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers explained that among those who drank one can of diet soda a day, the risk for developing metabolic syndrome was 34 percent higher than those who drank none.

Metabolic syndrome is a growing concern because of its association with an extremely high risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, said Michael Haller, assistant professor at UF's Department of Pediatrics.

Haller pointed out that the study found only an association between drinking diet soda and the increased risk.

A host of unknown variables may be the underlying cause for the correlation, he said.

Haller said that although the study revealed new insight, further experimentation is needed to prove that diet soda actually contributes to the development of metabolic syndrome.

"Until a reasonable explanation can be provided, I doubt many physicians or patients will accept the idea that they should avoid diet drinks," he said.

Holtzman said she would continue to visit the Pepsi machines on campus for her diet soda fix.

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"Until there is more information, I just don't have the motivation to quit drinking it," she said. "It really is a staple in my everyday eating pattern."

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