Tag Archives: diet sodas

A Can Of Soda A Day Keeps Your Last Years Away

Researchers from UCSF looked at roughly 5,000 adults with no diabetes or heart problems and asked themselves how sugary beverages affect lifespan. They analyzed drinkers of normal, sugary sodas, of sugary flat drinks, of diet sodas, and of 100% fruit juice drinks. To figure out lifespan, they looked at telomeres, which are endcaps on chromosomes, and which have been shown to correlate with how long a person lives. Those with shorter telomeres tend to age faster, die earlier and have more cancer. And it turned out that people who drink sugary sodas regularly, have shorter telomeres.

Warning label on a can of soda

Diet sodas didn’t seem to have any correlation with telomere length, though there are other problems with them. Non-carbonated sugary sodas had no correlation either. Regularly drinking fruit juice correlated with longer telomeres, though eating the actual fruit, instead, has the added benefit of healthy fiber. But for sugary sodas, extrapolating additional aging from how much the telomeres were shorter, the study found that drinking 8oz per day (about two-thirds of a can) shortened lifespan by 1.9 years, and 20oz shortened it by 4.6 years — the same amount as smoking.

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From American Journal of Public Health, via Time

Get Drunk More Quickly With Diet Soda

Finally, a study that tells you how to save money at the bar: people who used diet sodas as mixers, as opposed to sugary ones, got 18% more drunk. The researchers gave two groups of eight people the same amount of alcohol, but one group had diet mixers. That group’s peak breath alcohol level was 0.091, whereas the sugary group’s was only .0.077. Which, if they decided to drive, that diet soda would’ve been the difference between a DUI and not — the legal limit is 0.08 in all 50 states.


The scientists’ explanation is that sugar helps your body absorb the alcohol more slowly — the same reason you get drunk more slowly on a full stomach than an empty one. So, drink regular Coke if you wanna be more sober, but diet Coke otherwise. (Though, keep in mind that diet soda is not particularly good for you. Soda water probably works just as well, since it has no sugar.) And if you’re driving, get a breathalyzer, because none of the study subjects felt impaired. They even make ones for the iPhone now.

The study will be out in the April issue of Alcoholism.

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Diet Sodas Definitely Aren’t Good For You

NPR highlights three studies on diet sodas, none of which do them any favors:

  • A study on how diet sodas relate to metabolic syndrome, which is generally found in fat people and causes heart disease and diabetes. The researchers created three groups and measured how many of them developed the disorder. The first group drank diet sodas and had an awful diet (think McDonald’s all the time). The second group drank diet sodas and were on a healthy diet (fruit, fish, nuts, veggies). The third group didn’t drink sodas at all and were on the healthy diet, too. Metabolic syndrome was highest in the diet soda + bad food group, followed by diet soda + healthy food one, and lowest in the no soda + healthy food collective.
  • A study on how weight change relates to various lifestyle factors, including amount of exercise, of TV watched and various foods eaten, found that diet sodas didn’t affect people’s weight. The study did find out factors that correlated with people losing weight: exercising and eating healthy (fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and yogurt). They also found out what factors correlated with people gaining weight: watching TV, drinking, smoking, sleeping too little or too much, and a poor diet (potatoes, potato chips, sugary drinks, processed meat, and red meat).
  • Just to conflict with the one above, another study showed that people who drank diet sodas gained more weight than ones who didn’t.

But no studies showed that there’s anything diet about diet sodas. They either do nothing, or make you fat. What all of this sums up to is diet soda being at best a crutch that doesn’t help your health; more likely though, it’s a crutch that slowly kills you. Just stick to water.


From The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, The New England Journal of Medicine, via NPR and CBS News