Reviewed by Kathleen Zelman on April 19, 2016
Margo Wootan, DSc
© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Margo Wootan, DSc: Soda is not a health food. You know, soda is usually this concoction of water, sugar and a bunch of chemicals that most of the time you don’t even know what they are, the flavorings and additives that are in soda. Having an artificially sweetened soda really doesn’t change soda from a health food to something that’s not good for you. So it does sometimes surprise me the people that are worried about chemical additives that sweeten soda, but they’re not worried about the other chemical additives in soda itself. So, if you’re worried about additives, probably stay away from soda altogether. But the big problem with soda is the calories. It is the thing, the worst additive in soda is sugar or high fructose corn syrup, or any other sweetener. High fructose corn syrup is no worse than regular sugar. Just having all that sugar, having those empty calories on top of what we already eat adds a lot more calories than most people can fit into a healthy diet. So if you’re a person who loves soda and you want to be healthier, I would suggest going to diet soda. That we know that the risk from consuming too many calories are significant. It’s diabetes and heart disease and cancer. Really serious threats to our health. The threat from trace additives in food is much less. It often time surprises me when people say, “Oh, I don’t want to diet soda because that’s unnatural.” That somehow a regular Coke or Pepsi is this natural, healthy food. So if you’re worried about additives in your food, probably all soda should be off limits. I don’t think diet soda is really that much worse for you than regular soda in terms of additives. And we know in terms of calories that regular soda is the number 1 contributor to obesity. And it’s cutting out soda, switching to diet soda, or to water or seltzer or something else. It’s probably the most important change most Americans need to make to cut calories and improve their health.