You may think that by drinking diet sodas you're saving yourself a muffin top.
But new research has found that if you continue sipping low-calorie pop in later life you're more likely to develop a pot belly, with your waist size increasing by an average of three inches over a decade when you're over 65.
Scientists from the University of Texas tracked 749 pensioners in the above age category for ten years, monitoring their weight, diet and waist size.
'This study does not and cannot establish causation'
At the end of the experiment those who drank diet fizzy drinks every day saw their waist get bigger by 3.16 inches, while those who had them occasional increased by 1.83 and those who steered clear completely went up by 0.80.
Although the findings, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, didn't find a direct link between the two, critics have determined that diet products are more likely to lead to obesity if consumed regularly.
Sharon Fowler of the Texas University Health Science Centre at San Antonio led the study and has explained her discoveries.
"The burden of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, along with healthcare costs, is great in the ever-increasing senior population," she explained.
"The study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardio metabolic risk in older adults."
The results may appear worrying, but not everyone is convinced of their validity.
Dr Nita Forouhi of the University of Cambridge has branded the findings "not ready for translation into public health messages" yet as it doesn't take into account other dietary habits or overall daily calorie intake.
Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, backs this.
"This study does not and cannot establish causation," he added.
"In fact the authors look at people over 65 who are already at risk of weight gain and cardiovascular disease so there’s no basis to attribute their waistline to diet soft drinks.
"Indeed the body of evidence accords with common sense, that diet soft drinks can help to reduce calorie intake."
To be on the safe side it's good not to chug down a bottle of diet soda every day as while they may be low in calories, the artificial sweetener is no good for your teeth or waist line.
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