The world is in the midst of a huge obesity epidemic. Although there are many contributing factors to this huge increase in obesity being seen across the globe—specifically poor diet and lack of exercise caused by our modern, fast-paced lifestyles—many people also connect their weight problems directly to their sugar intake.
As a result, many overweight and obese people turn to diet soda in an effort to decrease their sugar consumption and hopefully allow them to start shedding pounds. The problem is that there is a ton of evidence out there that suggests that drinking diet soda could actually be further harming your health instead of allowing you to get in better shape.
Numerous scientific studies have shown direct links between diet soda and an increased risk of developing a wide range of different health problems. Almost all evidence available points to the fact that drinking diet soda is bad for your health, but despite the overwhelming nature of this evidence, many people continue to reach for the Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi with the misguided notion that this is better for them that drinking regular soda.
Unfortunately, that diet soda could potentially be harming your health and putting you at an increased risk for a variety of serious health issues, which is why it’s essential that everyone understands the risks and dangers of diet soda.
The Link Between Diet Soda and Metabolic Syndrome
One of the biggest myths about diet soda is that it is somehow healthier than regular soda. The fact that diet soda is either low in calories or completely calorie-free convinces many people that it’s the better choice when looking to lose weight. In many ways, this belief makes total sense, as one of the biggest factors in losing weight is cutting back on your total calorie intake.
Unfortunately, studies have repeatedly shown that drinking diet soda doesn’t make you more likely to lose weight, and the truth is that weight loss involves a lot more than just counting calories.
The problem is that drinking diet soda has actually been shown to potentially make it even harder for people to lose weight by increasing their risk for developing metabolic syndrome. One particularly enlightening study from 2009 showed that drinking just one diet soda a day increased the risk of metabolic syndrome by 36%. Even worse, the study showed that people who drink diet soda have a 67% higher chance of developing type-2 diabetes.
People with metabolic syndrome already have a much greater risk of developing diabetes, and the condition also raises the risk of stroke and heart disease. Furthermore, persons suffering from metabolic syndrome also tend to have much more belly fat and higher levels of cholesterol. Based on this evidence, it seems likely that drinking diet soda could potentially make it even harder for you to lose weight instead of helping you to meet your weight-loss goals as you’d hoped.
Additional Health Problems Linked to Diet Soda Consumption
The problems with diet soda aren’t only related to weight loss. In fact, numerous studies have shown links between diet soda and all of the following health problems.
Higher Risk of Dementia and Stroke. A study published in early 2017, which looked at the link between diet soda consumption and the brain, concluded that people who drank one diet soda a day were three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia as those who avoided diet sodas altogether. Based on this evidence, the researchers concluded that artificially sweetened beverages like diet soda are directly associated with a higher risk of certain brain disorders.
Increases Risk of Heart Problems. A Swedish study published in 2015 examined the links between sweetened beverages and heart disease, and this study concluded that drinking two sodas a day puts a person at a higher risk of heart failure and heart disease. Although this study did not make a distinction between artificially sweetened drinks like diet soda and naturally sweetened drinks, the fact remains that soda and other sweet drinks makes it more likely that a person will suffer from heart problems.
Can Harm Normal Kidney Function
A 2009 study attempted to draw a link between drinking artificially sweetened beverages and a decrease in kidney function, and again, the results weren’t very positive for diet soda drinkers. In this study, researchers showed that drinking two diet sodas a day was linked with a 30% decrease in normal kidney function.
Greater Risk of Depression. Although most people consider artificially sweetened drinks like diet soda to be safe, the truth is that the artificial sweetener aspartame ranks incredibly high on the EPA’s list of chemicals that directly contribute to neurotoxicity. In fact, aspartame only ranks behind arsenic on the list.
With this in mind, the American Academy of Neurology examined the link between artificial sweeteners and certain brain disorders and concluded that drinking diet soda increases a person’s risk of depression by approximately 30%.
Expanding Waistline. Although many people drink diet soda to lose weight, studies have shown that it may actually have the opposite effect and could potentially increase your waistline by three inches or more. People who occasionally drink diet soda tend to have a 70% increase in the circumference of their waistline compared to those who never drink diet soda, while those who consume more than two diet sodas a day have a 500% increase in waistline circumference.
Based on the evidence, it would seem that drinking diet soda has the potential to negatively harm your health in a number of different ways. Even if some these risks are the same for diet sodas as they are for regular soda, the fact remains that drinking too many sweetened beverages is never good for your health. That being said, the risks still seem to be higher for diet soda than for normal soda, which means you should definitely think twice about reaching for that can of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi.