News stories tell us that soft drinks are bad. Whether loaded with sugar or labeled "diet," they all harm our health. But how do scientists know that soft drinks are the problem? Is the evidence really strong enough to make you cut back on sodas?
Scientists use statistics and probability to analyze the results of their studies. If two events occur together frequently, they can tell that they're dependent events. When one occurs, the other often occurs too. That doesn't necessarily mean that the first event causes the second. There may be a third event that affects both outcomes.
Scientists have found that people who frequently drink soft drinks have a much higher risk for certain illnesses. The risks of kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease seem to be increased by soft drink consumption. One study has shown that women who drink a lot of soda have a greater risk of endometrial cancer than women who avoid soda. Children and teens who often drink soft drinks tend to have more health problems and are more likely to develop dental issues.
The problems don't only stem from the high sugar content of sodas. Studies have found that soft drinks cause more damage than foods containing the same amount of sugar. And artificially sweetened diet sodas also are associated with health risks. Yet, people keep drinking soft drinks. In fact, the average American drinks a gallon of soda a week. No matter how much bad news we get, it seems that people just continue taking their chances with soft drinks.
Watch the videos below to learn more about research on the health effects of drinking soda.