Recently, I ordered a sodaÂ along with aÂ club sandwich at my local diner, and the waitress, a snappy little firecracker we’ll call “Beth”, because . . . well, becauseÂ her name is Beth, asked me wryly, “Leaded or unleaded?”
“Leaded,” I responded firmly, indicating I wanted regular soda as opposed to diet soda.
And it’s a good thing I drink regular soda, because diet sodasÂ will KILL YOU!
Okay, so maybe they won’t necessarily kill you; at least not instantly, unless you have a mouthful of Pop Rocks in your mouth when you take a drink, and then . . . . I don’t know . . . simultaneously shoot yourself in the head or jump into a wood chipper or something.
But according to The New York Times and a study by scientists at the University of Minnesota,Â diet soft drinksÂ just might do some severe damage in the long run. It seems there is a correlation between drinking diet soda and metabolic syndrome.
And before you get excited, metabolic syndrome is not a good thing.
For the uninitiated, which I admitÂ to beingÂ until I read the article and then Googled like I was looking for a freaky farm animals porn site,Â metabolic syndrome is defined as the collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It includesÂ all the little things in life that Americans enjoy so much â€”Â and for the most part, take for granted â€”Â like obesity, high cholesterol rates, and high blood glucose.
Mmmmm . . . . blood glucose. I sure could go for a nice blood glucose float right about now.
But anyway, the data from the study show:
. . . [T]he risk of developing metabolic syndrome was 34 percent higher among those who drank one can of diet soda a day compared with those who drank none.
Now, as she scribbled down my order, Beth revealed to me that she prefers unleaded sodas to regular, even though I didn’t ask her and really didn’t care. I mean, I likeÂ Beth, because in the diner, she is the bringer of delicious food, and that goes a long way with a connoisseur of charred animal flesh such as myself. But her particular soda habits are about as important to me as Hillary Clinton’s preferred color of pantsuit. It doesn’t hurt me in any specific way, but then it doesn’t help me either.
However, I didn’t think Beth’s choice was unusual. In fact, if guessing, I would say that most of the women I know opt in favor of diet sodas over the sweet sweet nectar of a regular soda.
Also, I recall some pretty hefty girlsÂ that lived in my dorm â€”Â way back in the olden days when I was in college â€”Â who loved diet sodas. They would each eat a large supreme pizza and some hot wings, but they would wash it down with a diet soda, thereby, I suppose, breaking even. Whatever the case, the girls loved them some diet soda.
But that memory of my college days got me to thinking more critically about this study.
Now, I’m not one to question peer-reviewed papers very often, but I figured sodas are a staple in Western culture, and everyone can relate to this, so what the hell. It might be fun to discuss.
So,Â I have two questions for the Skepchicks (and Skepdudes, too):
1) Do you prefer diet soda or regular soda?
and for those of a more inquiring, scientificy, skeptical bent,
2) Do you think it’s possible the people from the study who drank diet sodas alreadyÂ exhibited otherÂ elements of metabolic syndrome, like obesity,Â that could lead them to drink diet sodas?