A study conducted by the American Academy of Neurology shows a possible connection between consuming sweetened beverages and a higher risk of depression in seniors aged 50-70 years of age.
263,925 were interviewed between 1995 and 1996. 10 years later they were asked if they had been diagnoses with depression since the year 2000.
The study showed about a 22% increase in risk for regular soda drinkers and a 31% increase for diet soda drinkers! Also diet fruit punch and diet iced tea had higher results than regular fruit punch or regular iced tea.
The Faulty Logic
The authors of the study issued press releases showing their findings and immediately the press jumped all over the story: ‘Diet Soda May Link to Depression’, blah blah blah.
Let me tell you something. Stories like this will have people, websites, media etc. stating it as fact for the next 10-50 years as often happens.
If you’ve read an article on this subject from any of the major media players, ask yourself an honest question right now before I explain. Did you believe it to be true? (Are the wheels in your head turning yet?)
Well it could actually be true, but it is far far from being scientifically conclusive.
Would it be a big surprise to you if I told you that overweight people tend to be more depressed than average or thin people?
Would it be a big surprise if I told you that people aged 50-70 have higher health risks and when they are overweight they often have to make drastic decisions to change their lifestyles? I can think of many people over the age of 60 offhand that made major changes in their lifestyles and dropped tons of weight. Doctors’ orders.
Decisions such as, ‘It’s about time I switch to Diet Soda, eh Marge?’.
Let us not forget also about the age old argument that artificial sweeteners actually make you fat. I’m not a believer in this, but maybe more studies are in order.
I can picture a cycle already. Drink soda, get fat. Get fat, get depressed. Drink diet soda until you get thin again. I’m getting depressed just typing it!
In fact many diet drinkers tend to cycle off an on because they struggle with weight. And I would bet if they did drink both, they would probably only admit to being “diet drinkers” on their survey. It’s human nature.
The Real Truth on Diet Drinks
So let me make this as clear as I can. People drinking diet soda tend to have weight issues. Now you might say, well wouldn’t regular soda drinkers consuming more calories tend to be fatter? For 50-70 year olds, we don’t know for sure. If we were talking about 10-18 year olds I would tend to agree.
Do fruit punch drinkers tend to drink fewer servings than diet soda drinkers? The list of doubts goes on and on.
Interestingly the scientists don’t make any mention of taking a survey of the weight of the diet drinker’s vs the non-diet drinkers. Why is this?
Because when your sponsors, non-profits, and governments pay millions of dollars for studies, you have to show them something sensational. Create that buzz.
Believe me; these scientists were not that stupid. They certainly surveyed them on a variety of issues to collect as much data as possible. When the details of the study are published and become public I’m sure the writing will be on the wall.
But the fact is (or not so factual) this study and more important PRESS RELEASE will play a major role on how people perceive diet drinks in the future and that my friends is a shame (or sham).
And to close out this article, the study also showed that drinking unsweetened coffee can actually lower your risk of depression.
Before you get too excited now, I wonder how coffee compares to that of water….Hmmm…..