Cathy Arnst

I'm sorry to keep flogging this issue, but there was a good comment to my last post that deserves a response. Chris writes

While I don't really care about diet sodas one way or another, I'm wondering what the scientific basis is for the Dr.'s comments that the ingredients in diet soda are "health draining"? What health is drained by caffeine, sodium, phosphoric acid, and artificial sweeteners? Whose health? In what ways? I'm just not sure I've read any proof one way or another on these substances except, perhaps, about caffeine on young bones. The others? Show me the proof. I don't doubt that there is some, but I just don't think broad sweeping statements like this are helpful in the marketplace of ideas.

Good point. So I've linked to several studies about the problems of soda, in addition to the ones mentioned in my earlier posts.

For the latest on how soda, diet and regular, harms teeth, click on this study in the March/April issue of the Journal of Academy of General Dentistry. It finds that both regular and diet sodas destroy tooth enamel because of the phosphoric and citric acids they contain. Root beer, incidentally, turns out to be the safest soda when it comes to teeth, because it isn't carbonated.

Drinking any type of soft drink poses risk to the health of your teeth,” says AGD spokesperson Kenton Ross, DMD, FAGD. “My patients are shocked to hear that many of the soft drinks they consume contain nine to twelve teaspoons of sugar and have an acidity that approaches the level of battery acid,” Dr. Ross explains. For example, one type of cola ranked 2.39 on the acid scale, compared to battery acid which is 1.0.

A study last October in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that cola consumption, both regular and diet, was associated with a higher incidence of osteoporosis in older women. The researchers hypothesized that the phosphoric acid and caffeine contained in cola could be the reason, but there is no conclusive link between these substances and osteoporosis. Another study by Harvard researchers in 2000 found that carbonated beverages increased the risk of bone fractures in teen age girls three to five-fold, though the same effect did not show up in boys. These researchers hypothesized that the weaker bones could be related to an interaction between phosphoric acid and hormones. However, it could also be that the girls and older women were replacing bone-building milk with soda.

If you really want to go into detail about the dangers of soft drinks, read Liquid Candy, a 1998 report, well referenced, by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The title says it all.

I know I sound like an extremist on this issue. Of course I realize that a soft drink now and then won't hurt anyone. But as study after study has found, most children aren't drinking a soda now and then. And I do believe that the best way to protect our children from soda is to never give it to them in the first place, so that they don't develop a taste for it. According to "Liquid Candy" one-fifth of one and two year olds in America drink soda--I don't see any way to rationalize that.

That's it. I promise to stop now.