Is diet soda just die with a T? Not so fast.
No Sprite, Sherlock!
You might be startled to learn this, America, but there is a 100 percent correlation between drinking diet soda and eventually dying. Also between working out and dying. In fact, people who work out die at exactly the same rate as people who don't, although they tend to look less like Jabba the Hutt before they go.
There is also a correlation between breathing and dying. Or between talking to me -- even once -- on the subway and dying.
So you have to live life as best you can. You can't always have what you want all the time. There is no magical "Get Out of Soda Free" card. If there were, Kirstie Alley would not look like that. It's not like you can drink it and your body responds by saying, "Whoa, what is this? I know it's not soda. Must be a vitamin-rich fruit beverage! I'm going to give you bonus longevity points!"
Just because something starts with the word "Diet" doesn't mean you can eat ten of it. A good friend of mine used to do that. She would buy large boxes of diet ice cream, which seems like a contradiction in terms, and have someone lower them into her mouth with a forklift. As a consequence, people kept mistaking her for a rare land-based whale.
It's like people discovering that Nicorette patches are more deadly than not smoking. Look, they might be less deadly than smoking. But they're not less deadly than eating well, working out, getting lots of sleep, and not ever having smoked.
Based on the wildly variable conditions of the study -- it's too strong to call it anecdotal science, but barely -- it's hard to conclude anything. What the study says is, "We called two thousand New Yorkers at random, and some of them said they were daily soda drinkers, and then in the course of the next nine years some of the soda drinkers suffered strokes." Correlation? Sure. But causation?
This is like the study that said drinking a glass of red wine every day decreased your risk of heart disease. Well, no. The wine itself didn't do the trick, or you could drink an entire box of Charles Shaw and be cured of all your ills. But being the kind of person who would drink a glass of red wine every day -- that was what mattered.
Even if this study weren't so flawed in other ways -- it's self-reported and doesn't take weight gain into account, meaning that there is the slight but non-negligible possibility that some of the people in the study ate entire hams daily and washed them down with diet soda -- this isn't about the diet soda. It's about being the kind of person who drinks diet soda.
You know the one I mean. "I'll have an ice cream sundae, a bucket of chicken wings, an extra-large fries -- and a diet coke, please."
And, besides, the comparison is to people who don't drink soda. I could have told you that.
Hey, here's a person who drinks a soda that contains no sugar! Here's someone who doesn't drink soda at all! Who do you think might suffer a stroke first, all else being equal? (Which, for the purposes of the study, all else wasn't.)
Look, we never said diet soda was perfect. Diet, as Garfield says, is just die with a T. But for now, until they come out with a more convincing study, the T is what matters.
| February 10, 2011; 2:45 PM ET
Categories: Bad Advice, Big Deals, Epic Failures, Petri | Tags: America, diet soda, law of the jungle
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