Is Diet Soda Bad for You? Maybe Not

Many things have been blamed on diet soda over the past couple years.

It has been blamed for increasing diabetes, increasing the risk for heart disease, and increasing the risk for stroke. Most of this comes from studies that seem to indicate that there is a link between disease and diet soda. Some studies even stretch over a 20-year period. With plenty of data, almost everything points to the conclusion that diet soda is bad for you.

However, recent researchers have re-reviewed the results and are having doubts on whether diet soda is actually as bad as it’s made out to be.

What Previous Studies Say about Diabetes and Diet Soda

Numerous studies have been done and they seemingly point out that diet soda is bad for health.

Starting in 1986, a study was done with over 40,000 men. In order to gauge the effect of soda over a long-term period, the study was conducted over a 20 years. The participants filled out questionnaires about their health and their diets. They paid particular attention to how much soda they drank, and whether it was regular or diet soda.

During this time, 7% of the men were diagnosed with diabetes. This caused the researchers to closely examine the results.

They had concluded that someone who drank soda was more likely to get diabetes. Since the men in the study drank regular and diet soda, they decided that diet soda equally caused the men to get diabetes.

What Previous Studies Say about Diet Soda, Heart Disease and Stroke

They started a similar study in 2003 to link heart disease and stroke to diet soda.

This time around, 2,564 people were participating. They were mainly interested in seeing what they drank and how much. Nine years had passed and they went through the data, and found shocking results.

The participants had experienced 559 cardiovascular events during the nine year period. They concluded that the participants that drank diet soda had a 60% higher chance of being at risk for heart disease and stroke. A report was published, indicating that diet soda “may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes.”

Need For Re-interpretation

Is diet soda actually bad for you? New researchers at Harvard seem to disagree.

They found that it may not actually be the diet soda causing diabetes, but it might actually be the lifestyle of the study participants. Some of the people who chose diet soda were dieting or actually were obese. Obesity itself puts a person at a high risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Dr. Rebecca Brown is an endocrinologist at the National Institute of Health and has interpreted the recent results of the study. Dr. Brown says that the study is “confirming the idea that it’s really these differences between people who choose to, versus don’t choose to, drink artificially-sweetened beverages,” that can affect whether they later develop diseases.

Future Studies

The previous studies trying to establish a link between diet soda, diabetes, heart disease, and risk for stroke have also expanded into other areas. They’re also being used now to establish a link between any kind of soda and developing metabolic syndrome.

Many years of research resources and time have been invested into studies that haven’t taken into account lifestyle factors. It might not actually be the soda that’s the problem, but rather the unhealthy lifestyles of the people who drink it. While it’s easier to blame diet soda and to keep doing research to try to prove this, it’s actually more straightforward and honest to tell consumers to improve their diet instead.

Sources:

Diet Soda and Diabetes: Old Study and New Harvard Study

Diet Soda, Heart Disease, and Stroke: Is There a Real Link