Diet Drinks are Soda-licious but Come with a Price

Diet Drinks are Soda-licious but Come with a Price

Diet Drinks are Soda-licious but Come with a Price

If you have a sugar craving but don’t want to gain weight, then a diet soda is the perfect option, right? Well, not necessarily.

Recent research shows that drinking diet soda may have negative effects on your health. From strokes to weight gain, diet drinks may do more harm than good. Take a look at these four side effects from diet soda and consider your own diet drink usage.

Heart Trouble

A study in the American Journal of Cardiology leaving site icon followed 100,000 people for 10 years. Researchers wanted to see if diet drinks are really a healthy option to sugary ones. The soda industry sure pushes them as being better. Still, the study found no such thing. Those who choose diet drinks face the same health risks as those who opt for sugary drinks. Most notably, a 20 to 30 percent higher risk for heart disease.

Kidney Issues

Drinking diet soda might be bad for your kidneys. One study found that women who drank two or more diet sodas a day were twice as likely to have future kidney health decline. Researchers leaving site icon found that regular soda did not have the same effects, leading them to believe that artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas may be a contributor.


Since it’s not made with real sugar, you may believe that diet soda will not raise your risk for diabetes. Not so fast. Drinking diet soda daily is linked to higher risks for Type 2 diabetes, one study leaving site icon by the American Diabetes Association says. It showed people who drank diet soda each day had a 67 percent increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared with people who don’t.

Weight Gain

The term “diet” may be misleading. A number of studies actually link diet soda to weight gain.

Harvard nutrition experts explain that diet sodas may trigger cravings for sweet, high-calories foods. So, even if you reduce calories by choosing sugar-free sodas, those calories – plus more – are added back in if you crave and cave to sugary, fatty foods. They also note that rodent studies have shown least one artificial sweetener (aspartame) damages the area of the brain that signals when to stop eating.  

Man-made sweeteners may:

  • Trick your body into thinking that sugar is on its way – causing your body to release insulin (fat storage hormone) which lays down belly fat
  • Confuse and slow down your metabolism
  • Make you hungrier and crave more sugars and carbs

The debate over whether diet soda is good or bad for you is still on-going, but recent studies may make you rethink your drink choices. If you think you may be drinking too many diet drinks, talk to your doctor or health care provider to get the best advice for you.

Sources: Artificially sweetened drinks may not be heart healthier than sugary drinks, leaving site icon American College of Cardiology, 2020; Study: Ditching Diet Drinks May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease, leaving site icon Environmental Work Group, 2021; Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, leaving site icon American Diabetes Association, 2009; Associations of Sugar and Artificially Sweetened Soda with Albuminuria and Kidney Function Decline in Women, leaving site icon National Library of Medicine. 2011; Zero Weight Loss from Zero Calorie Drinks? Say It Ain’t So,, leaving site icon Harvard Health, 2021.

Originally published 2/9/2015; Revised 2019, 2022