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Q: Helathier: diet or regualr soda ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: Helathier: diet or regualr soda
Category: Health > Fitness and Nutrition
Asked by: reich522-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 19 Nov 2005 08:41 PST
Expires: 19 Dec 2005 08:41 PST
Question ID: 595143
I understand that "no soda at all" would be the best answer to this
question.  However, not possible. Please answer what is better for the
health of a child who drinks one soda per day: What would be the
better choice-diet soda (artificial sweetener and side efects) or
regular soda (all that sugar).
Subject: Re: Helathier: diet or regualr soda
Answered By: emjay-ga on 19 Nov 2005 21:29 PST
Hi reich522,

Thank you for your question! The diet-vs-regular soda debate rages on,
but hopefully the info I've uncovered will help to shed some light.

As you implied, the debate mainly comes down to sugar vs. potential
side effects of artificial sweeteners. So what are the facts? Well, a
can of regular soda typically contains about ten teaspoons of sugar
and 150 calories, and excessive consumption is widely cited by experts
as contributing to childhood obesity. In addition, the high
concentration of sugar in regular soda is conducive to tooth decay. A
recent article in The Dallas Morning News lays it out in black and
white in a piece titled "Soft drinks a factor for fat youth"

"Today, the biggest single source of calories in the American diet is
fizzy soft drinks. The average teenage boy will get 15 teaspoons of
sugar a day just from these drinks, according to one report...Medical
researchers watching this trend say the growing fondness for sweetened
drinks may be one of the major forces behind children's rates of
obesity, diabetes and tooth decay."

An article on makes the following claims:

- "Consuming one 12-ounce (355-milliliter) sweetened soft drink per
day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60%."
- "Drinking too many sweetened caffeinated drinks could lead to dental
cavities (or caries) from the high sugar content and the erosion of
the enamel of the teeth from the acidity"
( "Caffeine and your child," )

Given such information, substitution of diet soda would seem a logical
choice. But what about the purported side effects of sugar substitutes
like aspartame, the artifical sweetener most commonly used in diet

Here's what Health Canada has to say on the subject:

"There is no evidence to suggest that the consumption of foods
containing [aspartame], according to the provisions of the Food and
Drug Regulations and as part of a well-balanced diet, would pose a
health hazard to consumers. In addition, other scientific advisory
bodies such as the Scientific Committee for Food of the European
Community, and the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of
the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health
Organization have reviewed all the available safety studies and have
found aspartame to be safe."

A concerned parent posed a question much like yours to pediatric
expert Dr. Alan Greene. It's reproduced on his website

"My son likes to drink soft drinks. I allow him one per day. I always
buy the caffeine-free variety, but I'm wondering what your opinion is
on artificial sweeteners and kids. Which is "less evil," artificial
sweeteners or sugar?"

Dr. Greene's answer: "The best research on NutraSweet (aspartame) has
not shown any conclusive problems. In the body, it breaks down into
two amino acids that are naturally a part of the diet. Sugar is loaded
with calories and it puts stress on the body's mechanisms for
regulating energy levels...If choosing between the two soda
possibilities, I would opt for the artificially sweetened soda."

Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic had this to say in an August 2005 column 

"There seems to be a lingering perception that nonnutritive sweeteners
are bad for you. But research hasn?t shown any significant health
concerns. In 1977, the FDA proposed a ban on saccharin because of a
suspected link to cancer in rats. It turned out that the research was
flawed. There?s no credible evidence that saccharin or other
nonnutritive sweeteners cause cancer."

He does, however, include the following precautions:

- "People with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic metabolism
disorder, should avoid aspartame because of possible health risks."
- "Even though data shows nonnutritive sweeteners are safe, it may be
prudent to limit how often you give them to children. These sweeteners
have been part of our food supply for only a relatively short time.
Children are more susceptible to any potential effects, and research
hasn?t specifically focused on their effects on children."

The FDA Consumer magazine, in its May-June 2005 issue, simply
recommends chossing "diet soda, low-fat or fat-free milk, water,
flavored water, or 100 percent fruit juice" as alternatives to regular
soda (

So while the final choice is yours, it seems that given the
association between regular soda and tooth decay/obesity and the lack
of scientific evidence that artifical sweeteners are harmful, diet
soda may be a better option for your child provided it continues to be
consumed in moderation.

You may also wish to check out the following links:

"Do Artificial Sweeteners Present Health Risks?" on, a
website created by columnist Steven J. Milloy
< >

"Soda Consumption Puts Kids At Risk For Obesity, Diabetes,
Osteoporosis, And Cavities"
< >

"Sugar Substitute" on Wikipedia
< >

The following search strings were helpful in finding your answer:

regular versus diet soda
diet vs regular soda better 

All the best!

Subject: Re: Helathier: diet or regualr soda
From: kage96-ga on 23 Nov 2005 23:13 PST
A simpler answer might be:

SOME artifical sweeteners have been linked to cancer in rats and
problems with kidneys. These same sweeteners have been in diet coke
since the 80s and studies are still usually varied in results.

Normal soda contains high fructose corn syrup. Nothing good has ever
been reported about high fructose corn syrup except its the most
potent sweetener there is. A lot of studies have shown that even in
smaller caloric quantities, high fructose corn syrup leads to higher
levels of body fat and diabetes and all sorts of horrible things.

My personal opinion is if it HAS TO be soda diet might be the better
choice. Evidence against it at least is less concrete.
Subject: Re: Helathier: diet or regualr soda
From: exactfunctor-ga on 23 Mar 2006 13:08 PST

Where are the sources for studies that link some artificial sweetners
to cancer in rats?
Subject: Re: Helathier: diet or regualr soda
From: us_librarian-ga on 05 Apr 2006 13:23 PDT
Some of the researcher's sources are good (from government sites or
non-profit sites), but others, like Wikipedia, should not be used as
authoritative sources. I'm curious why the researcher never seems to
use "hidden web" sources, such as journal articles found in databases
that are not accessible via the open Internet. That would be so much
more helpful to the average user, who can do a search engine search
themselves. Such databases are available through libraries and only
require library membership. In addition, for health-related questions
such as this, why were authoritative medical sites, such as medline
plus, or pubmed not used?

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