Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Stephanie McCoy

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation; Kinesiology


Consuming artificially-sweetened beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is becoming increasingly popular among those who want to lose weight, have medical conditions that prohibit intake of sugar, or want to improve overall health. However, little research has been conducted on the repercussions of the intake of these diet drinks, specifically on how they affect the cardiovascular system. The purpose of this study was to examine the acute effects of artificially-sweetened beverages on cardiovascular health. Eight participants with no pre-existing heart conditions underwent two separate appointments, one where they consumed a 12 oz. water and one where they consumed a 12 oz. diet cola. Pulse wave analysis (PWA), including systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and heart rate; and pulse wave velocity (PWV), which measures arterial stiffness, were examined at baseline, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes post water and diet cola consumption. No significant changes to PWA or PWV measurements were observed for either beverage. This analysis demonstrates that artificially-sweetened beverages have no acute effects on cardiovascular health, in regards to PWA and PWV. More studies are needed to fully examine the risks of diet drinks on heart health.