Heads up: Diet soda is just as bad for your heart as the regular stuff

Mike Pompeo drinks a Diet Coke during Senate proceedings
Put it down, Mike Pompeo!!! (Or don’t.)
Photo: Tom Williams (Getty Images)

I’m not necessarily a proponent of New Year’s resolutions, especially going into 2021 when your only resolution should be “survive.” But the coming year may be a good time to kick your Diet Coke habit, based on the results of a recent study proclaiming that diet soda is just as bad for you as the regular stuff.


According to a new research letter published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (hat tip to Yahoo! Life for the original story), artificially sweetened drinks and regular soda are equally detrimental to your heart health. The study included more than 100,000 participants who drank sugary sodas and “artificially-sweetened drinks” over the course of 10 years. Turns out, both those who drank sugary beverages and those who drank the artificial stuff had an increased risk of heart disease.

“Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy substitute for sugar drinks,” wrote Eloi Chazelas, a PhD student and lead author of the study. “This data provides additional arguments to fuel the current debate on taxes, labeling and regulation of sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the negative consequences of diet sodas, which have been linked to strokes, heart attack, and early death. Further proof that lower calorie content doesn’t always = healthy. Are diet soda’s risks worth it for your thrice-daily Diet Fanta quota? I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.


“Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy substitute for sugar drinks”

While it may “suggest” this, it is not cut and dried, since there are many other factors in how people live their lives and what their choices in one area indicate about their choices in others. All we know from this study is that PEOPLE who drink sugar drinks and PEOPLE who drink diet sodas have an increased risk of heart disease. Not that diet sodas cause heart disease. Correlation, not causation.

I think that on average, people who drink soda in general seem to have less concern about taking care of themselves, which leads to an overall unhealthier diet and more sedentary lifestyle. THESE are the things that lead to heart disease.

I would guess that a person who is otherwise living a healthy lifestyle but drinks one diet soda a day, isn’t going to notice any real detriment. However, one regular soda a day is going to be an extra 150 calories, which is a pretty big ding to their reduced calorie efforts for the day. Strictly in terms of caloric intake, one is better than the other.

That being said, someone who isn’t eating healthy and isn’t exercising and decides to go for the diet drink instead of the regular, isn’t going to magically avoid heart disease. I think that’s the real takeaway. The above statement would be better rendered as:

Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages are not a healthy enough alternative to sugar drinks to give any measurable benefit that would offset an overall lack of exercise and bad diet.”