For the study, researchers gathered data on health status and lifestyles of 749 men and women aged 65 and older, and then tracked the health outcomes in 466 survivors for more than nine years.The number of sodas they consumed and whether they were diet or regular was recorded at the beginning of the study and at each of three follow-up visits.

"Among participants, who reported that they did not consume any diet sodas, waist circumference increased less than one inch on average over the total follow-up period," said lead author Sharon Fowler from University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

And among those who consumed diet sodas every day, or more often than once a day, waist circumference increased over three inches.These findings raise a red flag for seniors because fat around the waist the proverbial tire around the middle has been linked with increased inflammation and risk of metabolic disease, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer and mortality.

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