One of the most straightforward steps you can take to improve your health in the New Year is to give up soda, and with that I'm talking about both regular and diet varieties. The problem with soda stems from its high sugar content — particularly the liquid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) variety — and, in the case of diet, its artificial sweetener content, among other issues.
Research suggests sugary beverages are to blame for about 183,000 deaths worldwide each year, including 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 heart disease deaths and 6,000 cancer deaths.1 Even drinking one or more 250 ml (about 8 ounce) servings of soda per day raises your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 18 percent.2 Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are a leading source of added sugar in the U.S. diet, with 6 in 10 youth and 5 in 10 adults drinking at least one such beverage on any given day.3
Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, "Frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain/obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, nonalcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout, a type of arthritis."4
However, the CDC only suggests that "limiting the amount of SSB intake can help individuals maintain a healthy weight and have a healthy diet," stopping far short of advising Americans to ditch these unhealthy drinks to avoid chronic disease.
This isn't entirely surprising, considering CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald received $1 million in funding from Coca-Cola5 to combat childhood obesity during her six-year stint as commissioner of Georgia's public health department and has a history of promoting the soda industry's "alternative facts." Her Coke-funded anti-obesity campaign focused on exercise. None of the recommendations involved cutting down on soda and junk food, yet research shows exercise cannot counteract the ill effects of a high-sugar (i.e., high soda) diet.