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Diet drinks linked to depression

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Experts are questioning whether diet drinks could raise depression risk, after a large study has found a link.

The US research in more than 250,000 people found depression was more common among frequent consumers of artificially sweetened beverages.

The work, which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, did not look at the cause for this link.

Drinking coffee was linked with a lower risk of depression.

People who drank four cups a day were 10% less likely to be diagnosed with depression during the 10-year study period than those who drank no coffee.

But those who drank four cans or glasses of diet fizzy drinks or artificially sweetened juice a day increased their risk of depression by about a third.

Experts are questioning whether diet drinks could raise depression risk after a large study has found a link 350x233 photo

Experts are questioning whether diet drinks could raise depression risk, after a large study has found a link

Lead researcher Dr. Honglei Chen, of the National Institutes of Health in North Carolina, said: “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.”

But he said more studies were needed to explore this.

There are many other factors that may be involved.

And the findings – in people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and living in the US – might not apply to other populations.

The safety of sweeteners, like aspartame, has been extensively tested by scientists and is assured by regulators.

Gaynor Bussell, of the British Dietetic Association, said: “Sweeteners used to be called <<artificial>> sweeteners and unfortunately the term ‘artificial’ has evoked suspicion. As a result, sweeteners have been very widely tested and reviewed for safety and the ones on the market have an excellent safety track record.

“However, the studies on them continue and this one has thrown up a possibly link – not a cause and effect – with depression.”

She said the study was a “one-off” and did not mean that sweeteners caused depression.

“For a start, people who suffer from depression may latch on to the idea that it is their sweetened beverages that caused it and so add a bias to their reporting of past intake, especially as <<soda>> in the US is demonized even more than in the UK. Also, it may be that drinking <<diet>> drinks is a marker for obesity or diabetes which in themselves can cause depression.

“Non-calorific sweeteners can play a useful role in the diets of those trying to lose weight and diabetics and it is certainly not advocated that people should replace their diet sodas with more coffee.”

Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.