Consumers have misconceptions that just because a product says diet it has to be “healthy.” Through mass marketing, soda companies have misled consumers to believe that low or zero calorie diet soda is a healthier alternative to regular soda.
Donna Starke, a nurse practitioner at the student health services at Florida A&M University, warns against the low calorie and low risk labels.
“Instead of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup diet soft drinks are filled with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Splenda,” Starke said. “They are added to diet sodas to make them taste as sweet as regular sodas.”
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, artificial sweeteners are highly processed with chemicals. Aspartame and Splenda are common chemical sweeteners that have serious side effects like hallucination, seizures, and cancer. Long-term intake of these sweeteners can potentially be hazardous to one’s health.
Clifton Loriston, a nutritionist and owner of CFB Fitness, believes the shortcuts come at a price.
“You may be saving calories by drinking diet soda but at the cost of consuming chemicals with dangerous side effects,” Loriston said.
Studies have proven the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages like diet soda is also associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Although some people are aware of these health concerns individuals like Kimberly Bryant, a product of a diabetic household, still continues to consume diet soda. Bryant prefers Coke Zero to any other low calorie drink. She said it makes her feel better physically and mentally knowing it has fewer calories than a regular diet soda.
Although Bryant chooses to drink diet soda she was unaware of the health issues behind them. But, Bryant is not alone in her lack of knowledge on this issue.
“Seventy-five percent of diet soda consumers don’t know the dangers behind the beverage their consuming,” Starke said. “Most are just drinking the soda because they feel it's a healthier way to consume soda.”
CDC research confirms that twenty percent of the U.S. population consumes diet drinks on a given day, and among that twenty percent, eleven consumed sixteen ounces or more.
Dr. Erika Johnson, Director of a Coumadin clinic in California, speaks on how diet drinks can be so popular among people.