Health

Diet soda consumption on the rise; CDC not sure what that means

Oct. 12, 2012, noon

Diet soda consumption is on the rise, according to federal health officials, but they're unsure of the implications. (Kung Fu Bonanza/Flickr Creative Commons)


More Americans than ever are drinking diet soda, probably because it's sugar-free, low- or no-calorie and, in a word, healthier – right?

Maybe.

A new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looking at diet soda consumption in the U.S. was inconclusive on the merits of the drink, saying while it "may promote weight loss in the short term," what happens in the long term is unclear.

Which could have big implications, given that the percentage of Americans who drink diet soda has gone up more than three points for women and about five points for men since 1999. The result: On a given day, 20 percent of Americans are drinking diet soda.

The CDC also found that most who do partake drink at least 16 ounces a day, and that folks who were white and who made at least 350 percent of the federal poverty level were more likely than their counterparts to be drinkers.

Other research on the subject doesn't do much to clarify the haziness of the CDC's conclusions (or lack thereof).

Katherine Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic nutritionist, wrote that "drinking a reasonable amount of diet soda a day, such as a can or two, isn't likely to hurt you." She did note that diet soda isn't "a health drink or a silver bullet for weight loss," and that some studies have suggested more than one soda a day, whether or not it's diet, can increase a person's risk of obesity and the subsequent complications.

Two of those studies come out of the University of Texas. CBS News reported on their findings, which suggest that diet soda does indeed increase a drinker's waist size, as well as their risk for diabetes.

So maybe think twice before reaching for can number two. Try some water – we hear it helps you eat healthier, too.

Photo by Kung Fu Bonanza via Flickr Creative Commons.

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