Drinking in the effects of soda
A recent study indicates that middle-aged people who down a soft drink daily are increasing their risk of developing metabolic syndrome—a combination of factors including excessive waist circumference (35 inches for women, 40 inches for men), high blood pressure, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL "good" cholesterol) and more that can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular ailments and diabetes.
"I would consider this a wake-up call," says Richard Stein, MD, of New York University and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. "If you have metabolic syndrome, your risk of having a heart attack over the next ten years goes up almost fourfold."
The study revealed that the risk appears the same for drinkers of both regular and diet soda. But it's important to note that the study does not conclude that drinking soda causes the problems. Instead, drinking too much soda may actually be a signal that people should take a closer look at the way they live; excess soda consumption may just be a sign that one has a diet high in calories and fat and low in fiber, according to the American Heart Association, which notes that such people may also be less physically active.
"Heart disease is not a single-cause disease; clearly it's a lifestyle disease," says Dr. Stein. "The answer is to look at all diet factors and if you are getting enough exercise."