Study finds 'diet' drinks negatively impact health as much as full-sugar versions

That '0 calories' sign on the side doesn't mean its necessarily healthy.
That '0 calories' sign on the side doesn't mean its necessarily healthy. Photo credit: Getty.

If you feel smug and healthy ordering a Diet Coke with your Macca's combo, we have some bad news for you. 

It turns out that 'diet' versions of soft drinks are no better for your health than sipping on their full-sugar counterparts. 

That's according to a new study out of France, which tracked the dietary drinking habits of more than 104,000 people over 10 years, looking at how many sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks they consume. 

In absolutely no surprise given sugar's negative reputation, participants who consumed sugary beverages had a higher risk of cardiovascular illness. 

But according to the results published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, participants who consumed low, or no-calorie versions of sweet drinks also had a high chance of experiencing cardiovascular disease.

That includes artificial sweeteners like aspartame, stevia, and sucralose. 

Researchers found consumers are up to 20 percent more likely to suffer heart disease, stroke or heart attacks than those who avoid consuming sweetened beverages altogether.

It echos other recent research from experts suggesting artificial sweeteners alter the body's metabolism, increasing the speed at which sugar is absorbed.

Lead author of the new study Eloi Chazelas concluded the results suggested "artificial sweeteners might not be a healthy substitute for sugary drinks". 

"These data provide additional arguments to fuel the current debate on taxes, labelling, and regulation of sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages," she added.