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Put your soda down (part two of two)

Political impacts of soda, diet soda investigation

Published: Monday, October 10, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07


It's amazing that something as simple as sodas can make one contemplate what else we inadvertently do to our bodies. As I linked an understanding of biochemistry with our daily tendencies, I began to question and contemplate my own routines.

Last week, I shared sodas' effect on our wellness. I need this second entry to make my message clear.

Gauging soda's grasp on America:

In 2009, Congress considered a bill concerning soda. Its purposes were clear-cut: raise much-needed dollars while reducing obesity prevalence. This bill was partially based on a study by the New England Journal of Medicine, which estimated that if the government would generate $14.9 billion in tax revenue in the first year by taxing sugary beverages at the rate of one penny per liquid ounce. Will Nueman of The New York Times discussed the issue here.

Want to know how much tax revenue the city you live in would produce? Use this revenue calculator for sugar-sweetened beverage taxes from the Yale Rudd Center.

In 2010, an average American consumed approximately 45 gallons of carbonated soft drinks, both sugared and diet. This made me curious because this estimate's idea of soda consumption is inclusive of diet sodas. How could diet sodas, which have zero calories, be a part of this or any problem?

Well, one study suggests that "for each can of diet soft drink consumed each day, a person's risk of obesity went up 41 percent."

Granted, many forms of American diets ultimately lead to weight gain — not just diet sodas — but by researching diet sodas (specifically targeting artificial sweeteners), we discover some handy information, namely:

Artificial sweeteners alter metabolism and brain chemistry. Artificial sweeteners are 100 times sweeter than table sugar, or sucrose. When we ingest artificial sweeteners, our bodies expect this major caloric intake. However, our regulatory system (controlling hunger and body weight) can't register that there are zero calories from this burst of sweetening. Now out of sync, the brain directs our bodies to search for calories elsewhere, maybe to a candy bar or again to the dollar-menu.

Diet sodas give us sugar-coated taste buds. Not literally, but consider this: if artificial sweeteners are 100 times sweeter than sucrose, and we drink one diet soda per day, what are we preparing ourselves for? Turns out, we are infantilizing our taste buds. We give our bodies a predisposition for sweet food while developing a distaste for non-sweet foods, such as vegetables.

Diet soda has been linked to Metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. According to the New York Times, research has shown that the risks of developing metabolic syndrome is 34 percent higher among those who consumed one can of diet soda a day than those who didn't consume any.

This means as we consume more diet soda, we increase the likelihood of having a stroke, heart disease or diabetes.

I see one additional major question regarding the relationship between diet sodas and wellness.  

Do the chemicals in diet soda or the psychology of the diet soda drinker explain these potent health-related issues?

Before scientists find that answer, I think I'll just stay away from sodas, or anything with a description containing "light" or "fit." More than likely, these low calorie products will contain artificial sweeteners. For a detailed outline on commonly used artificial sweeteners, click here. 

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