Diet Soda. . .Not Such a Great Choice

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • At one time, did you make a switch from regular soda to diet as a "positive" change for your health?

    I know I made the switch back in about 1993. Fortunately, I don't drink soda daily and even cut it completely out of my diet for months at a time, but based on the more research that comes out I need to just eliminate it permanently.

    According to Hannah Gardener and fellow researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, regular soft drink consumption and moderate intake of diet soft drinks are potentially linked to a higher risk of vascular events.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Gardener and fellow researchers analyzed 2,564 patients in the Northern Manhattan Study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study was designed to determine stroke incidence, risk factors, and prognosis in a multi-ethnic urban population.

    The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and found drinking diet soft drinks daily to increase the likelihood of suffering a vascular event 43% compared to those who drank none. Researchers took into account pre-existing factors, such as metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

    Light diet soft drink users (i.e. consuming one diet soft drink a month or every six weeks) and those consuming regular soft drinks did not have an increased risk.

    Gardener stats the study "results suggest a potential association between daily diet soft drink consumption and vascular outcomes". How the two are connected is not clear. This is an area further research is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn between diet soft drink consumption and health. . . I don't necessarily feel the need to wait for further research to tell me why diet soft drinks increase my risk of suffering a vascular event. Might as well cut back further to ensure I'm in the "light diet soft drink user" category!

    This is just another bit of evidence that using diet soft drinks is not necessarily the best tactic to promote weight loss or weight maintenance. The negative effect on overall health may outweigh the potential benefits.

    This doesn't mean I advocate you switch back to regular soda. There are just as many negative health consequences linked to a diet high in simple sugars.
    Instead, look at increasing your intake of liquids that support optimal health. . .water being number one.

    To learn more about how to make heart healthy changes "stick", access the free report How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits at

Published On: February 27, 2012