Mounting Evidence Grows Against Diet Soda

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Mounting Evidence Grows Against Diet Soda
Mounting Evidence Grows Against Diet Soda. Graphic © Photo © Focus Pocus LTD – (under license)

It is widely accepted that for a person to lose weight, one must either decrease their caloric intake or increase their caloric expenditure. Going by that logic, one could be forgiven for assuming that consuming drinks that are zero calories would produce weight loss over time.

However, there is now a growing number of studies claiming that artificially sweetened zero calorie drinks are not only ineffective in producing weight loss but can also be dangerous to your health.

Considering that sodas are often empty calories with no nutritional value, this prompted manufacturers to create an alternative. This gave rise to the use of artificial sweeteners in drinks. The widespread availability of diet beverages reached its peak after the American Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee of 2010 identified “ordinary” (i.e. sugared) soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks to be a primary source of excess calories in the American diet. [1]

Here are some reasons why diet soda may not be the best drink for you.

1. It May Not Be The Answer To Weight Loss

A study done by researchers from the Imperial College London found that ASB or Artificially-sweetened beverages are no better than Sugar-sweetened beverages for helping reach a healthy weight. As a matter of fact, another study found that artificial sweeteners were more likely to produce weight gain than weight loss. [2] To make matters worse, the weight gain seen in this study is in the form of abdominal fat, which is a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk. [3] This is especially alarming to those who are already obese since according to the most recent study, artificial sweeteners actually promote more fat accumulation in that specific demographic. [4]

2. It Makes You Crave More Sugar

Although artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, they are nonetheless sweet. This conditions the body to crave more sweetness and creates sugar dependence. A study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine showed that artificial sweeteners do not activate the reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners. This, in theory, causes you to crave additional sweets just to feel the positive reward associated with the flavor. [5]

3. It May Not Help In Preventing Diabetes

No sugar means no diabetes right? As it turns out, the answer is not yet that clear. The journal Nature published a study stating that artificial sweeteners can induce glucose intolerance in human test subjects. [6] This, in turn, can cause hyperglycemia. What is scarier is the fact that in another study, researchers found that drinking a daily serving of diet soda can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 67 percent. [7]

4. It May Be Bad For Your Cardiovascular Health

Since diet soda have the potential to cause obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, it can also increase your likelihood of heart disease. A 2012 study found a link between intake of diet soda and heart disease. [8] This was confirmed by a later study in 2014. The 2014 study found that when postmenopausal women drink two or more diet drinks per day increased their heart attack and stroke risk by a terrifying 30 percent. [9]

5. It May Contribute To Depression

Depression is a complex condition with several possible factors to consider. With that being said, a relationship has been found between diet soda intake and the occurrence of depression. According to the study published by the American Academy of Neurology, those who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda. The risk appeared to be higher for those who opted to drink diet soda compared to those who chose regular. [10]

6. There Is A Link Between Dementia And Diet Soda

A recent study from the Boston University determined that those who drink diet soda daily were almost three times more likely to develop dementia compared to people who don’t. The group that consumed diet soda manifested with signs of accelerated brain aging, which includes smaller brain volume, decrease memory capacity and shrinking of the hippocampus. Although the exact mechanism on how this happens is not yet clear, the researchers involved in the study feel that over consuming artificially sweetened drinks should definitely be avoided. [11]

7. It Is Linked To Weight Gain In Babies

Drinking artificially sweetened beverages while pregnant may not be a good idea. Aside from the fact that sodas can trigger heartburn in pregnant women, there is also evidence that suggests that diet sodas can result in a two-fold risk of delivering an overweight baby when they reach the age of 1 year. [12]

8. Diet Sodas Can Predispose You To Make Further Poor Nutritional Choices

Based on a study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, those who drink diet beverages are more likely to binge on foods that are loaded with sugar, fat, and sodium. This behavior might be explained by a person’s compensation due to the fact that they believe that by drinking a diet beverage it allows them some slack on consuming foods that are less healthy. [13]


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[1] Top 10 sources of calories in the U.S. diet – Harvard Health.

[2] Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Response to the Global Obesity Crisis.

[3] Diet Soda Intake Is Associated with Long-Term Increases in Waist Circumference in a Biethnic Cohort of Older Adults: The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. (2015).

[4] Low-calorie sweeteners promote fat accumulation in human fat. (2017).

[5] Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings. (2010).

[6] Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. (2014).

[7] Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). (2009).

[8] Diet Soft Drink Consumption is Associated with an Increased Risk of Vascular Events in the Northern Manhattan Study. (2012).

[9] Link between diet drinks, heart disease suggested in study.

[10] Hold the Diet Soda? Sweetened Drinks Linked to Depression, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk.

[11] Is Soda Bad for Your Brain? (And Is Diet Soda Worse?).

[12] Association Between Artificially Sweetened Beverage Consumption During Pregnancy and Infant Body Mass Index. (2016).

[13] Diet beverage drinkers compensate by eating unhealthy food, study finds.

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