I’ve been reading more and more about the debate over diet soda being a healthier option compared to regular soda. If you look at the calories alone, of course, diet soda is going to win in the calorie-counting category. For example, a 12 ounce can of Coke has 155 calories and a 12 ounce can of Diet Coke has zero calories. It would be easy if this debate ended here, but there still can be negative health implications by drinking diet sodas.
For instance, a study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that participants who consumed diet soda were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a condition that “includes excess weight around the midsection, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar and blood pressure levels—related to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.” Many health care professionals view metabolic syndrome as a precursor to Type II diabetes. Similar findings were also published at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in 2011, where participants who drank diet soda on a daily basis were 48 percent more likely to develop some kind of stroke or vascular condition.
Though there is statistical evidence that diet sodas are linked to adverse health effects, researchers are still trying to identify the true casualty of soda consumption and health-related conditions. For example, there are more studies needed to determine just how impactful drinking diet soda is on specific health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It’s possible that people who consume diet soda may also have behavioral (sedentary lifestyle), emotional (stress, anxiety, depression) and nutritional (high-fat, high-sodium diet) factors that could be an additional cause of some of these conditions.
Now, do I think that you should stop drinking diet soda or soda in general? In all reality, I think the answer is limitation and moderation. If you can avoid drinking soda or just have it on special occasions, then statistically that is going to be ideal for your long-term health. If you drink diet soda (or soda) on a daily basis, then yes, you are going to be at a higher risk for developing health complications like diabetes.
For those of you who are daily or frequent diet soda drinkers, ask yourself this question: Is it really worth it knowing there is a high probability that consuming a large quantity of diet soda can have a negative impact on your health? Again, I’m not saying cut it out of your diet completely, but if you feel you drink too much, maybe this is the time to make some changes.