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1 Daily Soda May Boost Heart Disease

Researchers Point Finger at Diet, Regular Sodas; Industry Officials Disagree

Soda Industry Strikes Back

In a prepared statement, the soft drink industry took issue with the findings. "Blaming one food, beverage, or ingredient as the cause for myriad health problems defies common sense and doesn't agree with the current body of nutritional science," says Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association.

The Washington, D.C.-based industry group represents many companies that make and distribute nonalcoholic beverages in the U.S.

"Metabolic syndrome and heart disease are complex problems that have no single cause and no single solution," the statement continues. Soft drinks can be part of a healthy way of life "when consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced lifestyle," it states.

“We’re underscoring the point the researchers make that it’s an association, not causal,” Neely tells WebMD. “The association found between diet soda and metabolic syndrome is particularly implausible. Diet soda is a beverage with zero calories, and it is 99% water.”

Diet Soda "a Good Option"

In a prepared statement issued Monday, the American Heart Association (AHA) also notes that the study does not prove cause and effect.

More study is needed on sodas before formal recommendations can be made, according to the AHA. Until then, the association views diet soda as “a good option to replace caloric beverages that do not contain important vitamins and minerals.” Diet soda, along with water and fat-free or low-fat milk, are better choices than full calorie soft drinks, according to the AHA.

What’s Next?

Is there a "safe" amount of soda? "We cannot really answer that question," Vasan says. The research shows an association between soda consumption and metabolic syndrome risk, Vasan says, but not cause-effect. More study is needed.

Still, he adds, "the group without risk drank less than one soda a day."

His co-author, Ravi Dhingra, MD, a physician at the Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, in Lebanon, N.H., and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, says: "If you are drinking more than one soft drink per day, you may be increasing the metabolic risk factors for heart disease."

  • Do you drink more than one soda a day? And if you do, could you stop at one soda a day if it meant you could decrease your risk for heart disease? Tell us on the WebMD Health Cafe message board.

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