Soft drink and soda consumption is a part of regular diet among most Americans. This is a worrying trend as consumption of these sugary drinks are associated with many health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Americans, especially the younger generation, seem to love sodas and soft drinks, which may have a detrimental health effect in them.
Studies show that those who consume over two cans of sugary drinks such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, iced tea, and energy and vitamin water drinks regularly increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent.1 But, these beverages are known to cause many other diseases that hardly anyone talks about. Here are some of the lesser known health dangers of soda and soft drink consumption.
Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), particularly carbonated soft drinks, may be a key contributor to the epidemic of overweight and obesity. According to the WHO, more than 1 billion adults throughout the world are overweight. In the US, 64 percent of the population aged between 20 and 74 are overweight, and 30 percent of those are considered obese.
Overweight and obesity are linked to many comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and breast, endometrial, colon, and prostate cancers.2 If you’re piling on the pounds rapidly, blame it on the sugary soft drinks. On average, a single can of sugar-sweetened soda contributes to an extra pound of weight gain each month.
The weight gain could be more in some people who drink these beverages more often than they drink water. Some people think that diet soda is a healthier option. But, diet soda is even more dangerous as it contains artificial sweeteners that may lead to other hormonal and physiological problems.
2. Dental Problems
An increased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to many oral health problems. Many studies have established a relationship between dental erosion and caries and soft drinks. The acids and sugars present in the beverages have both acidogenic and cariogenic potential that can cause dental caries and potential enamel erosion.
The most common source of the acids is soft drinks like cola and the cariogenicity of cola is more than that of milk and sucrose.3 Soft drinks and soda can cause permanent damage to the enamel. Soda is extremely acidic and the harmful chemicals present in it can cause even greater damage to your teeth than sugars found in candies.
Long-term consumption of caffeinated and uncaffeinated soft drinks appears to have bone catabolic effects. The incidence of bone fractures due to osteoporosis is increasing. Some studies indicate that consumption of soft drinks might affect bone mineral density (BMD) and the risk of bone fractures, especially in girls. Since almost 90 percent of total bone mineral content (BMC) is generated before the age of 17 in females, adolescence is the most important period of bone mass accretion in a lifetime.
So, prevention of osteoporosis should already begin in childhood.4 Cola soda and other beverages usually include caffeine and phosphoric acid in its content. Other studies also discovered that the regular consumption of cola causes a significant reduction of BMD in the hips of female subjects, making them more susceptible to bone loss when compared to men.
This happens due to the excess amounts of phosphorous, which prevents the absorption of calcium. The phosphoric acid in cola also causes calcium loss in the bones. Avoiding such beverages is crucial to prevent osteoporosis or diseases that prevent calcium absorption.
4. Liver Disease
A high intake of soda increases the risk of cirrhosis, which is a liver disease that occurs in chronic alcoholics. Excessive intake of soft drinks, insulin resistance, and increased oxidative stress combine to increase free fatty acid delivery to the liver. The consumption of soft drinks can increase the prevalence of Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) independently of metabolic syndrome.
During regular soft drinks consumption, fat accumulates in the liver by the primary effect of fructose, which increases lipogenesis. NAFLD can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a fatty liver with hepatitis.5 NASH is the most common cause of cryptogenic cirrhosis and is an increasingly common indication for liver transplantation.6
5. Kidney Stones And Chronic Kidney Disease
Colas and other beverages that are enriched with phosphoric acid are known to affect the urinary tract. In extreme cases, it may also lead to kidney stones. Many studies have reported that soft drink consumption was positively associated with urinary or kidney stones, but a few studies have also negated this association.7
Carbonated beverage consumption has been associated with diabetes, hypertension, and kidney stones, all risk factors for chronic kidney disease. The prevalence of chronic kidney disease has more than doubled from 1988 to 2001, affecting more than 20 million adults in the US.
Cola beverages contain phosphoric acid and have been associated with urinary changes that promote kidney stones. In one study conducted among men with kidney stones, the recurrence of kidney stones was higher among those who continued to drink soft drinks containing phosphoric acid.8
|↑1||Malik, Vasanti S., Barry M. Popkin, George A. Bray, Jean-Pierre Després, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 33, no. 11 (2010): 2477-2483.|
|↑2||Malik, Vasanti S., Matthias B. Schulze, and Frank B. Hu. “Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 84, no. 2 (2006): 274-288.|
|↑3||Cheng, Ran, Hui Yang, Mei-ying Shao, Tao Hu, and Xue-dong Zhou. “Dental erosion and severe tooth decay related to soft drinks: a case report and literature review.” Journal of Zhejiang University Science B 10, no. 5 (2009): 395-399.|
|↑4||Libuda, Lars, Ute Alexy, Thomas Remer, Peter Stehle, Eckhard Schoenau, and Mathilde Kersting. “Association between long-term consumption of soft drinks and variables of bone modeling and remodeling in a sample of healthy German children and adolescents.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 88, no. 6 (2008): 1670-1677.|
|↑5||Nseir, William, Fares Nassar, and Nimer Assy. “Soft drinks consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” World journal of gastroenterology: WJG 16, no. 21 (2010): 2579.|
|↑6||Assy, Nimer, Gattas Nasser, Iad Kamayse, William Nseir, Zaza Beniashvili, Agness Djibre, and Maria Grosovski. “Soft drink consumption linked with fatty liver in the absence of traditional risk factors.” Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 22, no. 10 (2008): 811-816.|
|↑7||Vartanian, Lenny R., Marlene B. Schwartz, and Kelly D. Brownell. “Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” American journal of public health (2011).|
|↑8||Saldana, Tina M., Olga Basso, Rebecca Darden, and Dale P. Sandler. “Carbonated beverages and chronic kidney disease.” Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 18, no. 4 (2007): 501.|