Diet Soft Drinks – Are they really that bad?

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You can call them fizzy drinks, pop, soda or soft drinks – but whatever you call them, we all know that they’re not exactly classed as ‘healthy’, right? Regular soft drinks have been linked with conditions such as obesity and diabetes to name just a few. (1)(2) The sugar content in a regular soft drink is usually over the recommended added sugar intake for an adult per day, never mind a child. Yet we as a nation continue to consume them on a daily basis.

Then we have diet soft drinks, which I will be talking about now. So, what exactly makes a soft drink ‘diet’ worthy? Well, diet soft drinks are usually sweetened with low- or no-calorie sweeteners in order to make them taste just like their regular soft drink equivalents. Aspartame and sucralose are two popular sweeteners used in diet drinks.

More and more parents are wising up to the volume of added sugar in processed foods and drinks but many are concerned about the alternatives

Should you limit your child’s intake of colas and squashes altogether or is it safe to let them have the odd diet soda or sugar free cordial?

Unless you are hiding under a rock these days, you more than likely have read about/watched some negativity towards diet drinks stating that they are worse for you than regular soda. You may have heard statements such as ‘diet drinks make you feel hungry, which means you eat more, therefore cause obesity in some people’, ‘diet drinks use aspartame, therefore they give you cancer’, and so on. There have been some very bold statements made about diet drinks that would cause some people to worry, and understandably so. If it’s splashed all over social media/the web then surely it must be true? Well, no.

These claims are not backed up with any sound evidence/research. You might read an article on Facebook that says ‘according to such and such study, diet soda is worse than regular soda’. Well, it has referenced some research so surely it’s not lying? The danger these days is that a lot of people don’t know what to look for in research papers, or how to tell if they are actually telling us the truth and if the results are relatable to real life and real people.

In relation to the bold statements made in the media about diet drinks causing cancer, well, in 2005 a lab study found more lymphomas and leukaemias in rats when very high doses of aspartame were used. (3) What is classed as a ‘very high dose’ in the study you ask? Oh, just the equivalent to drinking 8 to 2,083 cans of diet soda DAILY!! This is exactly why we have to be careful of the things we read on social media and what we believe. First of all, the study was on rats, and secondly the dosage is well beyond any normal person’s daily intake of aspartame/diet soft drinks.

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