Diet Soda Concerns


by Sonia de Villiers, Grass Food Researcher

We are told it is all about making better choices.  If we all took more personal responsibility we could stop this obesity and diabetes epidemic, we can stop being fat.  We have also been told to follow low fat diets, count our calorie intake and have more willpower. These mantras are all there to place accountability solely on consumers, a smokescreen removing our attention from the responsibility of food producers, retailers and governments.

What the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

Diet drinks are not good substitutes for sugar-sweetened drinks. Studies are showing that they increase cravings, weight gain, and Type 2 diabetes. And they are addictive. A 14-year study of 66,118 women, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, discovered some frightening facts that diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas.

Here are the facts of the study that should make us all stop drinking diet drinks and products.

  1. Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas.
  2. Women who drank one 12-ounce diet soda had a 33 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes and women who drank one 20-ounce soda had a 66 percent increased risk.
  3. Women who drank diet sodas drank twice as much as those who drank sugar- sweetened sodas because artificial sweeteners are more addictive and are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar.
  4. The average diet soda drinker consumes 3 diet drinks a day.

You might say that people who are overweight and just about to get diabetes drink more diet soda, but they scientifically controlled for body weight. And they found the artificial sweeteners increased diabetes independent of body weight.

How does that happen?
  • Artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar activating our genetically programmed preference for sweet taste more than any other substance.
  • They trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way. This causes your body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down more belly fat.
  • It also confuses and slows your metabolism down, so you burn less calories every day.
  • It makes you hungrier and crave even more sugar and starchy carbs like bread and pasta.
  • In animal studies, the rats that consumed artificial sweeteners ate more, their metabolism slowed, and they put on 14 percent more body fat in just two weeks – EVEN eating less calories.

    In population studies, there was a 200 percent increased risk of obesity in diet soda drinkers.

Artificial sweeteners have more intense flavor than real sugar, so over time products like diet soda dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit, says Brooke Alpert, RD, author of The Sugar Detox. Even more troubling, these sugar stand-ins have been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar. “Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain,” Alpert says.

More concerns about Diet Sodas

Although diet soda might not contain sugar,  it does contain sodium, phosphate, and usually caffeine (unless you make sure to get caffeine-free). Phosphate in high doses can have a negative effect on the health of your bones. Sodium and caffeine can cause dehydration, making you more thirsty, making you drink more diet soda, causing more dehydration.

Researcher Susan Swithers writes in an opinion piece published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, “accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes (such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin) may also be at increased risk of … metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”


The Food Industry still largely maintains that aspartame is safe for human consumption. As of 1995 more than 7% of the aspartame toxicity reactions reports sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involve seizures and convulsions (DHHS 1995). The FDA stopped accepting aspartame toxicity reaction reports in 1995 (Food 1995). In a study looking at 551 aspartame reactors, Roberts (1988) found that grand mal, petit mal, and absence seizures occurred in 18% of the cases.

In 1986, Food and Chemical News reported that 80 cases of aspartame-induced seizures had been reported to Dr. Richard Wurtman at M.I.T. (Food 1986). Dr. Wurtman reported three cases in The Lancet (Wurtman 1985). Walton (1986, 1988) published reports of nine cases of seizures linked to aspartame use.

Both the U.S. Air Force’s magazine “Flying Safety” and the U.S. Navy’s magazine, “Navy Physiology” published articles warning about the many dangers of aspartame including that the ingestion of aspartame may make pilots more susceptible to seizures and vertigo (US Air Force 1992)

In January 1993, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) received a US$75,000 grant from the NutraSweet Company. The American Dietetic Association has stated that the NutraSweet Company writes their “Facts” sheets.

It is no wonder then that the ADA states that “there is no credible scientific evidence linking aspartame to any health-related problems for people with diabetes.”

What You Can Do:

Stop believing the marketing lies.

If you drink diet sodas in the belief that they are a better alternative for your health and waistline then stop right now. Read labels and inform yourself on the chemicals that you are ingesting.

See also: Disturbing History of Aspartame Approval

How Safe is Splenda?

How Healthy are the New Soft Drinks?

Sources Scientific Abuse in Seizure Research Related to Aspartame
ADA Courier, January 1993, Volume 32, Number 1.
Mattes RD and Popkin BM. Nonnutritive sweetener consumption in humans: Effects on appetite and food intake and their putative mechanisms. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 89: 1-14.) PubMed ID: 2643923
Consumption of artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages and incident type 2 diabetes in the Etude Epidémiologique auprès des femmes de la Mutuelle Générale de l'Education Nationale–European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort.

Helping you find integrity in the food chain

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One comment on “Diet Soda Concerns
  1. […] also: Diet Soda Concerns, Aspartame, How Healthy are the New Soft […]


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