Consuming diet fizzy drinks can lead to dementia and stroke: Study

Artificially sweetened drinks such as diet sodas also have an adverse effect on the mental health of the consumer.

Representational image of a diet soda Pixabay

A recent study published by American Heart Association journal Stroke has revealed that artificially sweetened drinks such as diet sodas have an adverse effect on the mental health of the consumer and may even be tied to dementia and stroke. While fizzy drinks are often associated with physical health risks such as weak bones, this latest study highlights that such drinks could also impact the mental health of the consumer.

The scientists from the University of Boston studied a total of 2,888 participants above the age of 45 and1,484 people, above the age of 60, for this research. "The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages," Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow at the neurology department at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said.

The researchers studied the first group for stroke and the second one for dementia. "Dementia is rare in people under the age of 60 and so we focused only on those aged over 60 years for dementia. Similarly, stroke is rare in people aged under 45 and so we focused on people older than age 45 for stroke."

The researchers noted the total amount of sugary drinks that the two groups consumed between 1991 and 2001 and analysed the risk of stroke and dementia in the 10 years followed. After analysing the data, they discovered that those people, who consumed even one artificially-sweetened drink a day, are thrice prone to stroke and 2.9 times likely to develop dementia as opposed to those, who consumed such drinks less than once a week.

However, researchers could not find any concrete evidence to link such drinks to dementia and stroke. "Even if someone is three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia, it is by no means a certain fate," Pase said.

The authorities believe that the sugary drinks must be consumed cautiously and it makes more sense to opt for more healthy substitutes.

"Although we did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugary drinks, this certainly does not mean they are a healthy option. We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages," Pase added.