Is Diet Soda Bad For You?

Last modified on September 28th, 2013

Sylvain sent me this link today that basically concluded that one or more cans of diet soda can lead to health risks such as the metabolic syndrome

“We found that one or more sodas per day increases your risk of new-onset metabolic syndrome by about 45 per cent, and it did not seem to matter if it was regular or diet,” Dr. Ramachandran Vasan, senior investigator for the Framingham Heart Study, said Monday from Boston.


The study included nearly 9,000 observations of middle-aged men and women over four years at three different times. The study looked at how many 355-millilitre cans of cola or other soft drinks a participant consumed each day.

The researchers found that compared to those who drank less than one can per day, subjects who downed one or more soft drinks daily had a:

  • 31 per cent greater risk of becoming obese (with a body mass index of 30 or more
  • 30 per cent increased risk of adding on belly fat.
  • 25 per cent higher risk of developing high blood triglycerides or high blood sugar.
  • 32 per cent higher risk of having low HDL levels.

Those are all real bad. The researchers state at the end that they aren’t really sure why, but I’ve read enough over the last few years to have an idea why.

Last year I read a pretty interesting study about the effects of caffeine on the body. The researchers started with pop, and eventually went to caffeine supplements. What they found is that caffeine, in general, causes the body to over-react with insulin. That is, for the same amount of food, the caffeinated person will release far more insulin into their blood than the non-caffeinated person. Insulin, while vital to survival, hardens arteries, and makes it hard to lose weight (since glucagon, the hormone responsible for breaking down fat, will go low in response to the high insulin levels). Also, the current theory is that perpetually high levels on insulin can eventually lead to type-2 diabetes.

That being said, the researchers also noted that this caffeine effect did not seem to happen with coffee. For whatever reason, there is something in coffee that seems to negate the effect of the caffeine on the body.

So, while everyone points to sugar and high fat as the leading causes of obesity in North America (and for sure, they have contributed), there’s growing evidence (at least in my mind) that caffeine (which you can also look as as an almost necessary side-effect of the North America lifestyle) has played a pivotal role. I’ll post some links to studies tonight when I have more time.

Links of interest: