By now we should all know the dangers of consuming too much sugar. Among other things, it can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, obesity, and other serious health conditions.
That’s why many people have stopped drinking beverages with lots of added sugar (including high fructose corn syrup). Instead, they switch to “diet” or “light/lite” varieties. These foods aren’t less sweet; they are usually sweetened artificially with chemicals that contain few or no calories. So why is diet soda bad for you? These sweeteners.
The Worst Contender
Soda is one of the top 5 most popular drinks worldwide.
In fact, a 2010 report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest stated that “sugar drinks were the single-largest source of calories”. It also found that sugary drinks “account for 47% of all added sugars in the American diet”. (1) The U.S. is the second-biggest consumer of soda, drinking around 154 liters (40 gallons) a year per capita. (2) Of this, almost a third is diet soda. (3)
Soda consumption is generally on the decline due to sugar’s link to obesity and disease; some people believe that by drinking diet soda, they’re doing a good thing by reducing sugar intake. (4)
Why is Diet Soda Bad for You
The use of artificial sweeteners in food and beverages (this includes all beverages, not just soda) reduces the number of calories from sugar content, however, these chemicals pose dangers of their own.
A recent study published by the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke followed a cohort of 2888 participants aged 45 and older over a period of 10 years. The aim of the study was to determine if sugar- and artificially-sweetened soft drinks affected the risks of stroke and dementia. Adjustments were made for demographics and lifestyles (e.g., smoking, activity level).
At the end of the study, the researchers at Boston University found that while sugar-sweetened soft drinks had no significant impact on these conditions, people who regularly drank diet sodas with artificial sweeteners incurred almost 3 times the risk of ischemic stroke and Alzheimer’s disease than people who didn’t regularly drink them. (5)