Why are You Drinking It, If You Won’t Bathe Your Body in It?
I stopped drinking pop as we call it
here in the Midwest over 20 years ago when a friend asked this simple question:
“Would you take a bath in a tub full of soda?”
“Of course not”, I replied.
“You’re bathing your body internally
with it, so why are you drinking it, if you wouldn’t bathe your body in it?
Diet or not, regular consumption of
soft drinks, whether they are regular or diet, have been associated with a
greater risk of death from all causes in a study published in JAMA Internal
451,743 participants from 10 European countries having a
mean age of 50.8 with no history of diabetes, stroke, cancer or heart disease,
were surveyed in food and drink consumption and tracked; 2 or more glasses of
artificial sweetened soft drinks per day was associated with deaths from
circulatory diseases, and one or more glasses of sugar sweetened soft drinks
was associated with deaths from digestive disease including intestine,
pancreas, appendix, and liver diseases.
Several studies have had similar results, but noted the
elevated soft drink intake may be a marker for an overall unhealthy lifestyle.
In this study similar associations were seen in smokers and nonsmokers, as well
as lean and obese participants alike, indicating the association between
mortality and soft drinks is not strongly influenced by BMI and smoking habits.
“In our study, high soft drinks consumers had a higher
body mass index (BMI) and were also more likely to be current tobacco smokers,” said the study’s chief researcher, Neil Murphy of the International
Agency for Research on Cancer. “We made statistical adjustments in our
analyses for BMI, smoking habits and other mortality risk factors which may
have biased our results, and the positive associations remained.”
“The results of this study are significant,” said Sarah Reinhardt, lead food systems and health analyst for the
Union of Concerned Scientists. “It reinforces a fact that won’t surprise
anyone in the nutrition field: Processed foods loaded with artificial
ingredients will never be the magic bullet to better health, no matter how low
they are in sugar. Our bodies are smarter than that.”
Advocacy groups are appreciative of studies exploring links
between added sugars and human health, but they caution such results may be a
reverse causation effect wherein diet soda drinkers may have other common
qualities that may indicate a different explanation for these results, such as
the possibility of the artificially sweetened associations being influenced by
unhealthy individuals who switched from regular to artificially sweetened soda.
“This new European study is somewhat inconsistent with
earlier findings,” said Bonnie Liebman, CSPI’s
director of nutrition. “In the new study, the risk of dying of any cause was
more strongly linked to people who drank more diet drinks than to people who
drank more sugary drinks.”
“We recognize that a possible explanation for the
positive associations found for artificially sweetened soft drinks is that
participants who were already at greater health risk (those who were overweight
or obese; those with prediabetes) may have switched to artificially sweetened
soft drinks to manage their calorie and sugar intake,” said Murphy.
The 50 international researchers involved in this study
advance no theories about the relationships that they observed and encourage
public health campaigns aimed at limiting the consumption of all soft
Sweetened drinks are one of the leading sources of added
sugar in the diet according to the American Heart Association. Since the 1970s
the amount of obese adolescents and children has more than tripled according to
of adults are obese according to the American Medical Association.
Several American cities including Berkley, San Francisco,
Oakland, Albany, Philadelphia, Boulder, Portland, and Cook County have all
moved to impose soda taxes, but widespread efforts are being challenged with
resistance from the deep pockets of the soda lobbyists.
A spokesman for the American Beverage Association says that
over half of all beverages being purchased contain no sugar, and “no
one should over consume sugar, and we stand by the safety and quality of our
“It’s all the more imperative to successfully
commercialize lower-sugar and less-sweet beverages,” said Seth Goldman, chief executive of Honest Tea. “There’s a
recognition that the consumer is evolving, too. If [soda companies] don’t
change, they’re going to miss that evolving consumer. We’re seeing shifts that
are unlikely to reverse themselves.”