While visiting a friend in the hospital this weekend, I was struck by a sign on a vending machine in the patient’s lounge. It read:
“The health risks associated with obesity, along with the increase in diabetes and heart disease are so substantial, that the Mount Sinai Medical Center has taken the lead and now prohibits the sale of high fructose beverages in our vending machines.”
The vending machine was filled with every flavor of diet soda you can imagine. Do they really believe that chemically sweetened diet soda is better for you than the original versions? Many renowned researchers disagree.
A recent study from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and Harvard University found that the more soda a person consumes, regardless of whether or not it is sweetened with sugar or artificially sweetened, increases one’s risk for stroke.
A previous study, found an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and vascular related deaths in older adults who drank diet soda.
A 2009 Nurse’s Health Study of 3,256 women, found that those who drank 2 or more diet sodas per day had a 30% drop in kidney function. Although there is no final word on the matter yet, it is thought that artificial sweeteners may scar kidney tissue over time.
The acid content in soda has been found to be harmful to tooth enamel. Both regular and diet soda contain phosphoric and citric acids, which promote carbonation, and eat away at tooth enamel, the main barrier to decay.
Drinking soda can lead to bone loss. The phosphoric acid in soda also causes the calcium in the bloodstream to be excreted more quickly than normal. The bones give up some of their supply, to keep the blood calcium level constant. This results in weakening of the bones over time.
Ironically, diet soda has been associated with obesity, since it is thought that the sweet taste sends the brain a signal, causing it to suggest to the body that high calorie foods are en route. When they don’t arrive, the appetite is increased, as is the “sweet tooth”. Another theory suggests that people believe that they are saving so many calories by drinking diet soda, that they indulge in other fattening foods.
Given the information readily available on the health risks associated with soda intake and artificial sweeteners, it is mind-boggling and irresponsible for a hospital to supply it to their patients and visitors.
What do you think?
photo: Glasshouse Images