More Americans than ever are overweight and, in an effort to save calories, many are turning to diet sodas as a safe alternative to the sugary varieties. What does this mean to nurses and other healthcare providers? It means that there is sure to be a rise in kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and a host of other health problems that are directly linked to the consumption of diet drinks.
Who Is Drinking Diet Soda?
Diet drinks are more popular now than ever before, especially since the soft drink industry keeps finding ways to make the drinks taste better. Adult consumption of diet soda has increased by 25% and the rate of diet soda consumption in children has doubled during the past ten years. Diet soda is a favorite among those who wish to be healthier or thinner and is a staple for people with diabetes. So why is it so bad?
Health Risks Associated with Diet Soda
- Kidney disease – A study conducted at Harvard Medical School showed definitively that diet soda doubles the risk for kidney decline. The decline was noticeable with as little consumption as two sodas each day. The most interesting part of the study is that kidney decline did not occur with the consumption of sodas sweetened with sugar, pointing to artificial sweeteners.
- Metabolic syndrome – While many people turn to diet sodas as a way to lose weight, the truth is that the drinks often have the opposite effect. A study at the University of Minnesota showed that even one diet drink a day increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by as much as 34%. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include increased levels of belly fat, greater risk of heart disease, and higher levels of cholesterol. These results are backed up by a University of Texas Health Science Center research study that proved that the more diet drinks consumed, the higher the risks of being overweight. This study showed that two or more diet drinks a day caused increases in waistlines up to 500%. This is because artificial sweeteners disrupt the body’s ability to manage calorie intake. This causes people who drink diet sodas to overeat.
These are just the more major health risks associated with the consumption of diet drinks. What does this mean for nurses? It means that as consumption of these drinks rises, so will these and other health problems, including those related to obesity. It is a great possibility that nurses will be advising patients against these drinks as a routine part of the job in the very near future.