Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Soda is bad for you? Get out of here!

So apparently there is this new study that has been put out, linking the consumption of about one can of soda per day to metabolic syndrome, and it doesn't matter whether or not this is diet soda.

Now a quick glance at Wikipedia informs me that metabolic syndrome is a pretty broad condition. Pinning metabolic syndrome on daily consumption of soda is like pinning any one specific thing to obesity, or heart disease.

Just so you know, the article clarifies that metabolic syndrome isn't one thing, but consists of "high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess fat around the abdomen and glucose intolerance." Could it be that maybe, just maybe, the soda is a signal for other factors that would lead to this? Correlation is not synonymous with causation. A doesn't necessarily affect B, and B could even affect A. For this situation however, it's more likely that C affects both A and B, where C is the fact that someone indulging in soda daily may have other unhealthy habits. That's what my money would be on, especially since it doesn't matter whether or not the soda was diet or not. Realistically, most people who are serious about the health usually avoid all habitual soda consumption. The diet stuff isn't much better. The full effects of aspartame and sucralose are still disputed, and caffeine is just bad, no matter how you drink it. People conveniently forget that caffeine is a highly addictive drug that causes high blood pressure.

At the same time, a person can be quite healthy and drink soda occasionally, but that person should also keep in mind that regular sodas, not diet sodas, consist of water that has basically reached its saturation point of sugar. Your pancreas, liver, and heart hate you every time you down a gulp of Mountain Dew.

This was also an observational study. It wasn't hard science. Dig beyond sensationalist headlines, and you'll find a tiny bit of journalistic integrity left saying, "But not really." The article has this bit, " However, because this was an observational study, Vasan's group could not discern any evidence that drinking soft drinks actually caused the metabolic syndrome."

So there you have it. This article is garbage, but for the fact that it was a slow day for news, it spread virally through the media.

For full disclosure, even though I try to avoid soda, root beer is my kryptonite. I do however, avoid all caffeine. Coffee to me has always tasted disgusting, and I steer clear of soft drinks that have caffeine for the simple reason of abstaining from any unnecessary drugs. Seltzer is always good, unless you pour it all over your keyboard.

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