Everyone enjoys a nice, refreshing soda once in a while. Fizzy and sweet, packed with ice and maybe a slice of lemon or lime, on a boiling hot day, there’s nothing else quite like it. The unfortunate thing, however, is that whether you’re talking about lemonades, colas, or even ginger beer, we’re always hearing about the negative sides of sodas. If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me, it can be pretty dispiriting to constantly hear about dental cavities, tooth decay and Type-2 diabetes; health risks often brought on by overindulging in sodas.
Of course, there’s the fact that every can of soda contains a huge amount of sugar. Reading the nutritional information on the back of a two-litre bottle is a pretty sobering experience; it’s enough to make you think about giving them up for good, and that’s not even factoring alcohol into the equation, if you like spirit mixers.
For years, soda companies, worried about the backlash from nutritionists, have held a trump card in their deck; namely, the inclusion of no-added-sugar versions of their most popular beverages – the diet variety. I’ve always thought found diet sodas were pretty dumb; sure, there might be no sugar added during the manufacturing process, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a heck of a lot of it in the process to begin with.
Still, none of my friends listened to me, and a few of them would even freak out if you forgot to get them diet – as if it made that much of a difference anyway. If you’re the sort of person, however, who will only consume diet sodas, then I have some bad news for you: a recent scientific study claims to have proven that not only are diet sodas just as unhealthy as the regular kind, but they’re actually worse for you in the long term.
According to research conducted by a team of scientists from Boston University, drinking one diet drink a day puts the average American adult at three times as much risk of suffering a stroke or from some form of dementia later in life. The study was published in the American Heart Association’s official medical journal, which is called Stroke.
Researchers took a sample of 4,372 adults over the age of 45. Participants were then asked to fill out detailed questionnaires on the subject of food and drink intake in the 1990s, which were then tracked for 10 years. Subsequent results suggested that those adults who at least one diet soda a day were approximately three times more likely to develop dementia or suffer a stroke.
The man responsible for the study, one Matthew Pase (a senior fellow in Boston University’s Department of Neurology), claims that his data shows correlation without causation, but did admit: “We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages. In our study, 3 percent of the people had a new stroke and 5 percent developed dementia, so we’re still talking about a small number of people developing either stroke or dementia.”
Other nutritionists have been sceptical about Pase’s findings. Dr Cam Patterson, a cardiologist at the University of North Carolina, stated in response to the study: “People need to know about this, but it is important for everyone to realize that no general guidelines should be derived from these types of observational studies… I’ll continue to pack a diet soda with my lunch, but I’ll look more carefully at what else is in my lunch box, and I’ll pay more attention to what I’m doing while I’m drinking my diet soda.”
Here’s what social networks say about this:
Kevin Dynna «I was surprised that sugary beverage intake was not associated with either the risks of stroke or dementia because sugary beverages are known to be unhealthy,» Pase, of the Boston University School of Medicine, told CNN.
«Our observation that artificially sweetened, but not sugar-sweetened, soft drink consumption was associated with an increased risk of stroke and dementia is intriguing,» according to the study. «Like sugar-sweetened soft drinks, artificially sweetened soft drinks are associated with risk factors for stroke and dementia, although the mechanisms are incompletely understood, and inconsistent findings have been reported,» it adds. (emphasis mine)
One doctor discussed a theory of his regarding the study, though acknowledging it’s unproven.
«When the authors controlled for hypertension and diabetes and obesity the effects diminish, which implies that some of the effects of artificially sweetened beverages could still be going through a vascular pathway,» Dr. Ralph Sacco of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who wrote an editorial that was published with the study, told :CNN. (emphasis mine)
Personal observations regarding the study:
1. Based on self-reporting of diet.
2. May show correlation, but does not show causation.
Tracy Gregory My two children will not let me buy «sugar free» they have on 2ltr bottle a week and it ends up flat and not used — Coke is the best for cleaning the drains… Sprite is rubbish and don’t get me taking about Rubicon..
Kevin Dynna «When examining cumulative beverage consumption, daily
intake of artificially sweetened soft drink was associated with
an increased risk of both all-cause dementia and AD dementia
in Models 1 and 2 (Table 3; Table II in the online-only Data
Supplement). However, such associations were no longer significant
after adjustment for the covariates outlined in Model
3. With respect to recent beverage intake, daily intake of artificially
sweetened beverages was associated with an increased
risk of dementia in Model 2 only. Neither total sugary beverages
nor sugar-sweetened soft drink was associated with the
risks of dementia.»