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What are the Health Effects of Drinking Soda?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Soda is one of society’s favorite beverages. Each year, billions of gallons of soda are sold in the United States alone. Though it is popular with men, women, and children, many experts believe drinking soda may have serious health consequences.

Some studies have suggested a link between drinking soda and obesity. Soda is high in sugar and calories. Combined with its practically nonexistent nutritional value, soda may cause drinkers to pack on the pounds without receiving even the smallest nutritional benefit. Surprisingly, drinking diet soda has been linked to weight gain as well. However, some experts assert that obesity may be caused not by drinking soda, but by the combination of drinking soda and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Drinking soda has been shown to contribute to tooth decay. Spokesmen for the soda industry have conceded this point. Interestingly, in recent years, levels of tooth decay in the United States and similarly developed countries have decreased. This is in spite of the fact that more people are drinking soda than ever before. At the same time, levels of obesity have risen.

Obviously, the sugar consumption involved in drinking soda is cited for causing tooth decay. However, the acid in soda has been shown to erode tooth enamel, leading to dental cavities as well. In fact, the acid in soda can begin damaging enamel just 20 minutes after drinking soda.

Caffeine dependence may also form as a result of drinking soda that contains caffeine. Some health care advocates assert that caffeine may interfere with brain development in children. So far, however, this assertion has not been proven. Research suggests that individuals can develop caffeine dependence as a result of drinking soda and may experience withdrawal when caffeine consumption decreases.

Another unfortunate health effect of drinking soda is the weakening of bones. Some animal studies have shown that phosphorus in soda leaches calcium from bones. Similar studies on humans have suggested that drinking soda may lead to a tendency toward broken bones.

Many individuals choose to drink diet soda in order to avoid the sugar and calories in regular soda. Drinking diet soda, however, is not a perfect solution. Diet soda drinkers are still vulnerable to the acidic effects of soda. Furthermore, some artificial sweeteners, commonly used in diet soda, may contribute to serious health issues as well.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon925946 — On Jan 15, 2014

The best thing to do for your health would be to only drink water and milk. Sometimes 100% real fruit juice. Diet drinks and de-caffeinated sodas all still have other harmful health effects. It's not rocket science - even real fruit and fruit juice is bad for you in excessive amounts for other reasons. If you have to read a label on a drink, you probably need to avoid it.

By anon352331 — On Oct 21, 2013

I'm doing a science project on how soda affects your grades and this is just perfect!

By anon347658 — On Sep 09, 2013

I drink a lot of soda. But now I think I should just stop! I'm going to try a lot harder to stop because it is getting really unhealthy for me. My skin is getting paler every day and I'm also getting tired. Thanks for this advice and I hope I get off this sugary junk.

By anon267002 — On May 08, 2012

For all you youngsters posting here remember that 'you are what you eat.'

Avoiding chemicals in your food and drink will help you avoid cancer and other modern diseases. Trust me, life is too short to risk for the sake of some fizzy pop!

By anon256884 — On Mar 23, 2012

"In the mood?"

Sex and death are always inextricably intertwined.

So, the rush of the risk contributes to getting ready for the rush of the physical act. Enjoy!

Actually, if you are a guy, it is probably from the sugar and caffeine induced increase in blood pressure.

By anon254183 — On Mar 12, 2012

This is weird, but if I drink soda it sort of puts me in the mood. Why is this?

By anon221828 — On Oct 13, 2011

I still love soda.

By anon163427 — On Mar 27, 2011

I've always knew that soda is unhealthy but never with those details. I'm glad I've stopped drinking soda for about a year now, and will never drink it again

By anon140912 — On Jan 09, 2011

It's amazing how many people think drinking soda is normal! Ever wonder why that is? My partner and I just wrote an article about why health departments allow coke but many countries have made raw milk illegal. Is it any wonder people don't know how to look after themselves!

By Monty Bone — On Oct 16, 2010

I used to be be a typical teenager. I had problems with acne, ate whatever i wanted: pizza, snack cakes, soda, chips, your standard crappy American diet. My skin was awful. i had a low weight though, because of my high metabolism -- around 106 pounds. At times i was quite miserable. I did sit ups and exercise and an hour of treadmilling, which didn't last long as i couldn't complete it without feeling like crap because of my dietary habits.

Acne was really my problem, as was being easily fatigued. A few months ago, I started taking the bad out of my diet over the summer break, like soda and other horrible crap like fast food. Now i read labels on food before i eat it to make sure it doesn't have any unnatural ingredients like that crap that has like 50 different additives and stuff like a snack cake or something.

A few months ago i eliminated everything that's not natural -- that sort of thing. I now do a set of exercises every day before playing video games. 1: I do thirty times running up stairs and thirty times running down and it's split into parts, not all at once. 2: a 300 second jog and 160 second jog separated. 3: 101 sit-ups a day plus 102 reps with a small set of weights I'm a skinny guy, not a muscleman, although I do have abs. 3: i just added this a few days ago. It's the one hour of running pace treadmilling.

As for the acne, it's pretty much cleared up besides a little spot every once in a while. i feel really great and eat plenty of healthy, tasty food, peanuts (unsalted, of course), almonds (no sodium), various fruits and veggies, some healthy, natural amish chicken made by my mom.

As for drinks, soda is a fond memory of an unhealthy past. I now drink 100 percent fruit juices with nothing bad added to it, herbal teas sweetened with honey and no caffeine and of course water with my exercise routine. My family doesn't follow this so I'm still stuck around Hershey bars and Mountain Dew.

I'm able to get this food since my mom understands that if she doesn't get the food i can eat, i don't eat anything at all.

All i can say is if you're an adult, grow up and quit the burgers and soda. You will live longer and feel better and your kids, if you have any, will benefit as well. I'm 14 and i did it even with idiots at my school who act like it's stupid to do what I do.

By anon112853 — On Sep 22, 2010

my skin is so dry, peeling and burning. i rarely drink water and eat a awful diet, like sugars and donuts. am i completely dehydrated. I also have fibromyalgia, arthritis and have a very sedentary life. Help me.

By anon100977 — On Aug 01, 2010

Drinking caffeine such as soda, coffee, and caffeinated teas, can cause fast heartbeats. Too much consumption of tea can cause one to throw up. I know from experience.

I drank lots of tea, then one day I started to throw up after drinking the tea. I would consume six cup of hot tea in the winter and drink at least two pitchers a day of cold tea in summer. I drank three cups of coffee in the day and evening depending on my craving for it. And as for soda, i consume almost a twelve pack a whole day. I started to feel my heart beating fast. It would come and go, so i took it as a sign to stop caffeine for a while. I now drink decaffeinated teas and once in a while one cup of coffee.

By anon99166 — On Jul 25, 2010

Re 15- "what about drinking hawaiian punch?" Just look at the ingredient label on a can of that stuff, and then ask yourself: Why you would want to drink it?

Every product in the world is marketed to make it appealing. It is our responsibility as consumers, to make purchases that are not detrimental to our health.

This applies to everything. Be an informed consumer, and for goodness' sake, don't feed garbage to your children.

By anon85660 — On May 21, 2010

I just need to know the effect of soda drinks in a female's life, especially in their menstruation cycle?

By anon74042 — On Mar 30, 2010

Do you know the soda tax Governor Paterson made? He says that it will reduce obesity and diabetes along with other health issues. Does soda contribute greatly to obesity and diabetes?

By anon73399 — On Mar 27, 2010

All my life I had drank sodas, in fact I was what you consider a Pepsi-holic. I drank a soda with everything I ate. Maybe about five sodas or more every day.

Recently I started having problems with my kidneys and I truly believe it's because of my bad soda habits. I have had two kidney stone problems, and if you know anything about that, you know it is one of the most painful things to deal with.

Please stop drinking soda if you drink it now. I am a father of a two year old and a business owner and I have never felt so hopeless with something like I do with my kidney stone problems.

By anon64968 — On Feb 10, 2010

Anon9981, My best guess for the reason that you ended up going to the bathroom after drinking the diet soda is because of the artificial sweeteners in it. Your body isn't used to the "fake" sugars so your bodies first reaction was to get it out of your system as fast as it could. I'm not sure about the regular soda either, it might have been something else you ate.

By anon45088 — On Sep 13, 2009

I'm not very confident in this idea, but, since soda can be linked to bone weakening, is it possible that drinking soda affects how tall I will grow? (A silly question, but I've barely grown an inch since seventh grade, and for a long time I've been drinking what I consider to be a moderately large amount of soda.)

By anon42582 — On Aug 22, 2009

what about a glass of red wine a day?

By anon36717 — On Jul 14, 2009

what about the side effects of drinking fruit drinks like hawaiian punch

By anon31669 — On May 09, 2009

Can soda's cause side/stomach pains?

By geek803 — On Mar 09, 2009

if more people are having tooth enamel problems in the united states then shouldn't it be increasing instead of decreasing? because more people are drinking more soda!!

By anon26600 — On Feb 16, 2009

Someone said that they are drinking lemonade instead of soda, that is not a *very* good option. Lemonade is very acidic, so it damages teeth enamel. Therefore you have a higher risk for cavities.

The one thing is that phosphoric acid is only in brown soda. So if you look at the ingredients of sprite and pepsi- Sprite does not contain the harmful acid, while pepsi does.

By anon23179 — On Dec 18, 2008

The worst things about it are phosphorous acid for tooth decay and for bone weakening. It shouldn't be consumed. I've made myself quit drinking them almost completely and I substitute lemonade (no phosphorous acid) as something sweet to drink. I make it from lemonade. I also like green or regular tea with lemon.

By anon20320 — On Oct 29, 2008

There is no sugar in most modern mass-produced soda brands-just high fructose corn syrup. Years ago when soda contained actual sugar, the obesity rate in this country was a lot lower.

By busgrama — On Aug 04, 2008

I use soda ash as an acid neutralizer in my well water. Does anyone know how that affects the sodium content of the drinking water? I am a heart patient and must restrict my sodium.

By anon15701 — On Jul 19, 2008

hi im 13 year old..does soda give you diarrhea or stomach problems because i drink soda A LOT and two days ago i had regular soda and did not feel good at all.. was it because i drank it too fast or something else?? and yesterday i had diet coke and had to go to the bathroom a lot and is still happening today.. is this a health effect for me??

By shriyapriya — On May 31, 2008

one word answer: is drinking soda good or bad?

By anon9981 — On Mar 17, 2008

this site is absolutely awesome! i cannot believe how easy it was to get my answer! being only 11 years old, i still have tons of questions about everything. my science class got an assignment on soda and their acids. i went to google an saw the name "wiseGEEK". i clicked on it and immediately found myself in a world of science and its answers. now i go here all the time with all of my questions. wiseGEEK, you are answering every question i throw at you! thanks a lot!!!!! from mE!!!

By malena — On Jan 19, 2008

Anonymous - Difference in the health effects? Presumably none, right? Whatever caffeine you are avoiding by drinking caffeine free soda, you are getting in the coffee, right? Actually, coffee generally has a lot more caffeine in it -- something like 120 mg of caffeine in coffee compared to about 40mg in soda. But that all depends on the type of coffee or soda, some have more, some have less. Moreover, the negative health effects of soft drinks does not solely come from the caffeine in it, as the article states. Sugar and phosphorus for example, present in both caffeinated and non-caffeinated carbonated drinks, have been said to have negative effects.

My question is, is the weight gain associated with drinking diet sodas a result of the sodium in them? Sodium causes you to retain water, right? I think a diet soda contains something like 25mg of sodium and the daily value for sodium, according to the FDA, is something like less than 2,400mg. So a soda is only 1% of a daily value, which doesn't seem significant in itself, even if you drink a bunch of sodas a day. So what causes the weight gain associated with diet sodas?

By anon7054 — On Jan 16, 2008

If you have caffeine free soda and then coffee? What difference in the effects would there be?

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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