Can diet soda cut your life short?

When I was in Paris in September, I spent a considerable amount of time feeling some degree of defeat over not being able to fit my North American-bottom into European-size clothes. It's now a well-worn trope that "French women don't get fat," but contrary to the self-righteous proclamations of healthy living, what I actually observed was a fairly strict regiment of cigarettes and Diet Coke.

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soda, pop cola and fries
Masterfile

When I was in Paris in September, I spent a considerable amount of time feeling some degree of defeat over not being able to fit my North American-bottom into European-size clothes. It’s now a well-worn trope that “French women don’t get fat,” but contrary to the self-righteous proclamations of healthy living, what I actually observed was a fairly strict regiment of cigarettes and Diet Coke.

We all know that smoking is bad for you. But diet sodas are enjoyed by many and rarely perceived as much of a vice – especially when lined up next to trans fats or compulsive gambling. But maybe we should reconsider. According to new research reported by Amy Norton at Reuters, daily consumption of diet soda can significantly raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.

It’s worth noting that researchers were reluctant to point a finger directly at diet beverages, citing a correlation with other unhealthy habits. (Smoking, for example?) Diet soda drinkers tend to weigh more, and have problems like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes and problematic cholesterol levels. Many people consume diet soda because they believe it will help keep their weight in check, but artificial sweeteners have actually been linked to increased food consumption and weight gain. Regular soda, stuffed full of high-fructose corn syrup, isn’t a great option, either.

So what’s a girl to do? It appears that all sodas, both regular and diet, can be slotted into the vice category. And while most of us should forgive ourselves for the occasional late-night cigarette or birthday party Tequila shots, we should probably also view sodas of all stripes as an every-now-and-then treat.