• CNN: Sugar-free soda is safe

    I have a piece over at CNN defending diet beverages. I’ve cleaned out my inbox to receive your hate mail.


    P.S. If you like this stuff, we had a whole chapter on artificial sweeteners in our second book.

    • Arron, Love your anticipatory and well considered deluge of fun, fact filled, insightful, and all around cheery email based on your shilling oooops I meant to say well considered thoughts. Shilling is what your hate mail will say. I am seriously cheesing (smiling) over this post.

      On a serious note I thought I heard or read somewhere that consumption of diet beverages was down due to the fact people were not seeing weight loss they expected.


    • I agree they are safe, but if you sip on them all day it’s bad for your teeth.

      • Why?

        • Because they are acidic. See the article I linked to below.

          • But so are many fruit juices.

            • Yep. Anecdotally, I’ve known people who habitually sip Diet Coke all day. A friend of mine was told by his dentist to swear off Diet Coke because it was damaging the enamel on his teeth. I think there are fewer people who sip on fruit juice all day, but you’re right it’s possible. Something for parents to be aware off in terms of how much juice they give their kids.

    • Great post, I have heard like Marilyn (above) that they can be bad for your teeth but have not seen solid evidence of that (if any readers have a study of diet soda an dental effects I would to read it). It amazes me that people are so sure about their ideas on nutrition with so little strong evidence.

    • Sugar free sode might be safe but it’s not healthy if you drink it all the time. Not to mention that damage to your teeth when drinking it all the time. All soda is unhealthy, some more better than others.

    • This article discusses some research on the effect of acidic beverages on teeth:


      • That article also contains these gems:

        Specifically she drank two liters every day, and “she did not seek any dental health services for an extended period of time (more than two decades).”


        Certainly don’t “hold” soda in your mouth for 25 hours.

        Which is to say that under extreme (or implausible) circumstances, soda can be just as bad for you as apple juice (also mentioned in the article.) Or that under normal circumstances and normal rates of consumption, soda might have some miniscule impact upon dental health.

        Kinda reminds me of those commercials which suggested (without actually stating directly) that “a bowl of Fruit Loops* and 8oz of milk contains all the nutrition of 8oz of milk.”

        *Insert the cereal of your choice.

        • Sorry I was unclear. I was referring to this research that was referenced in the article:


          Acidic beverages increase the risk of in vitro tooth erosion. Nutr Res. 2008 ; 28(5): 299–303.

          Also, in my comment I specifically said Diet Soda could be harmful to your teeth *if* you habitually sip on it all day.

          In any case, I’m not making any claims to any particular expertise in this area.

    • “You can even find people who postulate that artificially sweetened beverages trick the brain into wanting more calories. There’s really no proof of that.”

      The neurobiological evidence is actually pretty supportive of this hypothesis, in addition to the several cross-sectional studies showing the associations with weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Yang’s review article is a pretty good start on the subject:


      • Agree- the article was ok up to that point, but then started into some serious wishy-washy ‘analysis’…
        1)A hypothetical anecdotal person who eats a sweet dessert as a reward for drinking a diet soda appears to explain away the lack of impact on weight documented from switching to diet soda. Hypothetical anecdotes at best create testable hypotheses, by themselves they prove nothing.
        2)Silly strawman arguments about how ‘the brain doesn’t release insulin’ and ‘flavor doesnt control insulin release’ used to attack the reasonable hypothesis that sugar substitutes may not only appear sugar-like to the taste buds, but also to other parts of our physiology related to blood sugar homeostasis.

        If you want to use science as you did in the first part of the article debunking the health risks of aspartame vis a vis cancer, it’s disingenuous to shift to rhetorical tricks to dismiss other hypotheses about aspartame which haven’t been dismissed by scientific results yet.
        Perhaps more research will show that aspartame does not stimulate insulin release, or that dietary adaptation to sugar-free drinks causes the lack of weight loss by those switching to those drinks. Or perhaps not. Either way, reaching a conclusion now is unnecessarily premature, and doing so via rhetorical tricks is shameful.

        • This wasn’t a journal article. It’s a CNN op-ed.

          But as to 1, there is legitimate research that shows that people over-compensate. I was just giving an illustrative example. And as to 2, the brain is not what controls insulin release. It’s glucose hitting beta cells in the pancreas. Aspartame does not affect the pancreas in a similar way. That’s what science shows.

    • Colas are high in phosphoric acid which has some negative effect on enamel as well as calcium balance, but an occasional Coke, diet or otherwise, isn’t a huge problem. Non-colas don’t have the phosphoric acid.

      Doesn’t anybody drink tap water anymore? Vitamin water, designer water, flavored water, “fruit” drinks, soda and all of it in disposable plastic bottles. Sheesh.