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13 Reasons Why Sugary Soda Is Bad For Your Health


It is a known fact that calories from foods increase the risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases as well as obesity. However, research now shows that even sugary sodas have a major role to play in causing many types of chronic health conditions. When you consume sugary beverages in an excessive amount, then so much of added sugar can actually have a disastrous effect on your health. While some sources of sugar are worse than other, sugary sodas are now believed to be the worst kind. Not only does this apply to sugary sodas, but the same also holds true for highly sweetened coffees, fruit juices, and other sources of sugary beverages or liquid sugar. We take a look at some of the top reasons why sugary soda is considered to be bad for your health.

13 Reasons Why Sugary Soda Is Bad For Your Health

13 Reasons Why Sugary Soda Is Bad For Your Health

Worldwide, there has been a marked decline in the consumption of soda. However, there are still many people who continue to drink sugary soda every day. Soft drinks or as they are commonly referred to as soda, are carbonated beverages with added sugar. The occasional consumption of this type of sugary beverage is not going to cause you any harm, but drinking them regularly on a daily basis is not at all healthy. In fact, drinking sugary soda daily increases the risk of getting many types of lifestyle and chronic diseases.

Cutting back on the number of sodas you have or eliminating them completely from your diet will help prevent many of the health problems that are associated with these sugary beverages. We take a look at some of the reasons why you should avoid drinking sugary soda and how it can harm your health.

Sugary Soda/Beverages will Cause Weight Gain and also Make You Feel Hungry (1, 2, 3)

Added sugar is already known to be highly fattening and liquid sugar is even more fattening than any other form of sugar. This is believed to be because sugar supplies a huge amount of the simple sugar known as fructose, which impairs the function of the hormone ghrelin, also referred to as the hunger hormone, in the same manner as glucose. Glucose is the main carbohydrate that is found in starchy foods.

A study done by the Department of Internal Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut, United States, has shown that the simple sugar fructose fails to stimulate the centers in the brain that make you feel full or satiated, in the same manner as glucose does.

The brain is known to regulate your day-to-day calorie intake. This is why when you eat extra portions of one particular food, your brain automatically makes you consume less of something else instead, thus balancing out the calorie intake.

However, when you consume liquid sugar, the process does not work in the way it should. Liquid sugar when consumed gets added on top of your total calorie intake for the day. Sugary drinks do not make you feel satiated or make you feel full. This is why you consume the same amount of food that you would have before. But the only difference is that there will be a lot of extra calories from sugar added on top.

A study conducted by the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the Purdue University showed that participants who added sugary soda to their diet actually had 17 percent more calories than what they did before. The figure of 17 percent is huge when you think about how much that equals to over a period of time. It is no wonder then those sugary sodas are one of the biggest causes of obesity. Many studies have shown that individuals, who regularly consume sugary beverages, end up gaining much more weight as compared to people who avoid sugary drinks.

A study conducted by the Department of Medicine at the Children’s Hospital in Boston found that in children, a serving of sugary beverages on a daily basis increased the risk of obesity by 60 percent.

Research has firmly shown that sugary beverages are the most fattening part of any modern diet. Therefore, if you want to either lose weight or avoid gaining weight over a period of time, then you should remove sugary sodas from your diet.

Liquid Sugar (Soda) will Speed up the Accumulation of Belly Fat (4)

A study by the Georgia Health Sciences University and the University of North Carolina has shown that fructose dramatically increases the accumulation of dangerous fat around your organs and also around the belly. While sugar consumption, in any case, is known to make you more prone to storing a higher amount of body fat, fructose increases the storage of visceral fat, commonly referred to as belly fat (4).

A 10-week study done by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, had 32 healthy participants who consumed sugary beverages that were sweetened with either glucose or with fructose. At the end of 10 weeks, the study found that participants who only consumed glucose experienced an increase in the body’s subcutaneous fat, which is not associated with causing any metabolic disease. The participants who consumed fructose, though, experienced an alarming increase in the dangerous visceral fat, which also increased their risk of getting many metabolic diseases.

Sugar Gets Converted Into Fat In The Liver

Sugar is made up of two major molecules. One is glucose and the other is fructose. While glucose can easily be metabolized by every cell of the body, fructose can only be metabolized by the liver (5).

When we consume a lot of sugary sodas, we are also consuming excessive amounts of fructose, which our liver will need to break down and metabolize, putting a lot of strain on only one organ in the body. When the liver becomes overloaded, it ends up converting the fructose into fat (6).

While all this fat is transported out of the liver as blood triglycerides, a certain part of it remains in the liver itself. Over a period of time, this will increase the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (6).

Sugary Soda and Insulin Resistance

One of the primary functions of the hormone insulin in the body is to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. When a person drinks a lot of sugary soda, the cells of the body start becoming resistant to the functions of insulin over a period of time (7, 8, 9, 10).

When the cells become insulin resistant, the pancreas then needs to produce even more of the hormone insulin in order to remove glucose from the bloodstream. As a result of this, the insulin levels present in the bloodstream increases. This condition is known as insulin resistance and is known to be one of the biggest causes of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is known to be the first stage towards developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes (11, 12, 13).

Sugary Beverages and Type 2 Diabetes

It is a well-known fact that type 2 diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle and chronic diseases in the world. Type 2 diabetes is typically characterized by high levels of blood sugar in the context of either insulin deficiency or insulin resistance.

As discussed in the above point, sugary sodas can cause insulin resistance. This is why it is hardly surprising to know that there are hundreds of studies that have linked the consumption of sugary sodas to type 2 diabetes (14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19).

In fact, statistics show that even one can of soda every day increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in the long run.

A research study that looked at sugar consumption and prevalence of diabetes in 175 countries found that one can of soda or 150 calories of sugar on a daily basis increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 1.1 percent.

Sugary Sodas and Leptin Resistance (20)

While you already know about insulin resistance, not many people are even aware of a condition known as leptin resistance (20). Leptin is a hormone that is manufactured by the fat cells in the body (21, 22). The primary role of leptin is to regulate energy balance in the body in the long run (23). Leptin has a major role to play in determining the number of calories one consumes and burns. Leptin is also responsible for protecting the body from starvation and from obesity, often referred to as the ‘starvation hormone’ or the ‘satiety hormone’.

When you become resistant to leptin, a condition known as leptin resistance, the body starts to gain fat. In fact, leptin resistance is one of the biggest drivers behind fat gain (24).

Many studies done on rats primarily have shown that there is a direct link between fructose intake and the development of leptin resistance. Human studies are yet to be conducted. When these rats were given high amounts of fructose, they all ended up developing leptin resistance. After reverting the rats back to a sugar-free diet, it was observed that leptin resistance went away. Again, human studies still need to be conducted, but it is expected that the results will remain more or less the same.

Sugary Sodas and an Increased Risk for Heart Disease (25)

As far back as the early 60s and 70s, studies showed that high levels of sugar intake are linked to a risk of heart disease. Since then, it has now been firmly established that beverages that have added sugar, cause a significant increase in the risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease (25). These factors include blood triglycerides, blood sugar levels, small, dense good cholesterol (or LDL) particles and others.

Some recent human studies have also shown that there are strong links between an increased risk of heart disease in men, women, and even adolescents and sugar intake.
The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study for two decades involving 40,000 men that showed that the participants who consumed one sugary soda or any sugary beverage every day had an increased risk of having a heart attack by nearly 20 percent, as compared to the participants who consumed sugary beverages only rarely.

Sugary Sodas will cause an Addiction

When the body gets sugar, the brain releases dopamine, which is a hormone that makes us feel pleasure (26). The human brain, by natural design, is hardwired to search out activities that will release dopamine. In particular, activities that make the brain release a large amount of dopamine are found to be highly desirable. This is the premise on which addictive drugs, such as cocaine work, and why people start becoming dependent on them, eventually leading to addiction.

Numerous studies have shown that processed junk foods and sugar also have the same effect on the brain. People who are predisposed to any kind of addiction will find that sugar intake causes the same reward-seeking behavior that is typically associated with abusive drugs. This phenomenon is generally referred to as food addiction.

Research done on rats has already shown that sugar can be physically addictive and though it has been shown to be more difficult to prove addiction in humans, many individuals who drink sugary sodas or other junk foods in general, show the exact same pattern observed in those who are addicted to harmful drugs or substances.

Sugary Soda and Risk of Cancer (27, 28, 29)

Even the risk of cancer is found to be much higher in regular soda drinkers (27, 28, 29). The risk of cancer is directly related to chronic lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. This is why it is not surprising to learn that sugary beverages are also associated with causing the risk of cancer to go up.

A study conducted by the Cancer Control Program at the Georgetown University Medical Center did a study on over 60,000 men and women. It was found that those participants who drank two or more sodas during a week, had an 87 percent higher likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer as compared to those participants who did not drink soda. Another study was done on pancreatic cancer also found that there is a strong link of sugary sodas increasing the risk of cancer in women, but not in men.

Even postmenopausal who consume sugary sodas regularly are at a higher risk of getting endometrial cancer, which is cancer that affects the uterine lining. The regular consumption of sugary drinks has also been shown to have a link with cancer recurrence as well as death in patients of colorectal cancer.

Sugary Sodas and Risk of Gout (30, 31, 32, 33, 34)

Many people may not recognize what is gout. Gout is a medical condition that is marked by pain and inflammation in the joints of the body, particularly in the large toes of your feet. Gout is caused by the crystallization of high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.

The sugar fructose is known to be the primary carbohydrate that increases the levels of uric acid in the blood (30, 33, 34). Many preliminary studies have found that there is a strong link between the consumption of sugary sodas and gout (30). Long-term studies have also shown that sugary sodas increase the chances of developing gout by 75 percent in women and even double of that in men.

Sugary Sodas Wreak Havoc on your Teeth (35, 38)

It is a well-established fact that sugar is bad for the teeth. Sugary sodas, similarly, is also bad for your dental health (35, 36). This is because soda contains acids, such as carbonic acid and phosphoric acid, which create an acidic environment inside the mouth (37). This increases the vulnerability of your teeth to decay and the acid also eats away at the enamel of your tooth (38).

The combination of these acids present in soda with the added sugar is what makes sodas even more harmful, to the point of being disastrous to your teeth.

Sugar also feeds the bad bacteria present in the mouth, as it acts as an easy source of digestible energy for these bacteria. Combined with the harmful decaying effect of the acids, sugary sodas actually wreak havoc on your dental health over a period of time.

Sugary Sodas Can Even Cause Dementia (39, 40, 41)

It may seem far-fetched, but the fact is that excessive consumption of sugar has been linked to a dramatically increased risk of developing dementia (39, 40, 41). Dementia refers to a group of neurodegenerative diseases that occurs with age, the most common one being Alzheimer’s disease.

The reason behind this increased dementia risk is believed to be the incremental increase in the levels of blood sugar in people who regularly drink sodas. Basically, this means that the higher your blood sugar levels, the higher will be the risk of dementia.

Sugary sodas or sugar-added drinks cause rapid spikes in your blood sugar levels, which raises the blood sugar by ultimately causing insulin resistance. Studies on rodents have supported this theory and have also shown that large doses of sugary beverages cause impairment to the rodents’ memory and decision-making abilities.

Other Associated Risks with Sugary Soda

Some of the other risks that are associated with regular consumption of sugary sodas include:

Soda can cause a decline in your kidney function (42, 43, 44). An 11-year study conducted by the Harvard Medical School involving 3,318 women, found that diet sodas increase the risk for kidney decline by two times in people who drink diet sodas regularly.

Sugary soda increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 25 percent, as it puts a lot of strain on the pancreas.

Soda cans can also cause you health problems because they are lined with bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA. BPA is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, reproductive problems and obesity.

Sugary sodas can cause dehydration as caffeine is a diuretic, which promotes the production of urine. This causes you to urinate more frequently and may cause dehydration.

The artificial brown coloring that is found in most colas is actually manufactured from a chemical process and is not made from caramelized sugar (45). This coloring of sugary sodas is linked to many types of cancer (45).


Sugary sodas not only wreaks havoc on your metabolic health, but they can cause some serious harm to your brain as well. Apart from increasing the risk of so many diseases, sugary beverages also make you gain weight. If you want to avoid getting any chronic diseases, lose weight and also keep your brain functioning properly, you should seriously consider dropping that soda can from your diet today.


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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 27, 2019

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