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Heart & Home

Study Says Diet Soda Makes You Sad? Not So Fast

How are you today? Feeling blue? A bit down in the dumps? Here's a tip: Put down the Diet Coke. Then go watch the first three Jason Bourne movies. Get back to us afterward. While watching the Bourne movies is certainly key to breaking out of the funk, it's parting with the diet soda that's the most pivotal part of our advice. Why? Because a new study says drinking soda makes people sad. But is that really the case?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recently released a report that stated people who drink four or more cans of soda a day are about 30 percent more likely to be depressed than those who don't drink any. The same study found that coffee drinkers are doing great. They're 10 percent less likely to become depressed than those who don't drink the caffeinated goodness.

The study was massive. According to the NIH, they took into account the soda drinking habits of 250,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71. The researchers logged their soda consumption from 1995 to 1996. Then, 10 years later, the experts checked back in with the same group of people and looked into which had developed clinical depression. The team found that 11,311 of those surveyed had been depressed at one point during the decade. The worst offender ended up being diet soda, as those who drank that were even more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who simply consumed regular sodas.

"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," Honglei Chen, the lead author of the report, said in a statement to US News and World Report. "More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors."

While this is a great story for grabbing readers' attention — and there is a link between soda consumption and heart disease — We suspect that the NIH's study is a bit flimsy. Does soda really cause sadness, or is it sad people are more likely to drink soda than those who are happy? Think about the kind of people who drink a lot of soda. We're obviously generalizing here, but people who drink four cans of soda a day (that's a lot of soda) are likely to be overweight. This is especially true about diet soda. And multiple studies have shown that overweight people are more likely to be depressed. So unfortunately for the researchers, this correlation does not equal causation. We'd say go ahead and drink up, but no matter what, soda isn't good for you. Bourne movies, on the other hand, are.

[Image via Flickr - globochem3x1minus1]

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