Diet soft drink

type of sugar-free or artificially sweetened soda

Diet soft drink, or diet soda is the name for a soft drink that uses an artificial sweetener, instead of sugar. Usually, these drinks contain carbon dioxide. They do not contain alcohol. Sometimes, they use the word 'light' or 'lite' in the name. Because sugar has been replaced with another sweetener, they are targeted at health-conscious people, athletes, or people want to lose weight. Diabetics also use them. The sweetener tastes like sugar, but has fewer calories. The artificial sweeteners most used are aspartame, saccharin, cyclamates, sucralose, and stevia. Each of them has benefits and drawbacks. The taste is often noticeably different than sucrose (regular sugar). Even after decades of research, no artificial sweetener really "tastes like" sugar.[1][2] Most sweeteners have a marked aftertaste, often described as "bitter" or "metallic".[1][3] The perception of this aftertaste has been studied intensively.[4][5] It appears to be based on genetic factors that vary from person to person.[1][6]

Diet Coke is a popular diet soft drink

In recent years, consumers want more "natural" products. They are afraid of possible health effects of artificial sweeteners. These reasons have increased the demand for stevia-based sweeteners. Manufacturers were also driven to develop new phytochemicals.[1][3]



The first diet soda was in 1952, when Kirsch Bottling in Brooklyn, New York launched a sugar free ginger ale called No-Cal.[7] It was designed for diabetics, not dieters, and distribution remained local. Royal Crown Cola placed an announcement in an Atlanta newspaper in 1958 announcing a diet soda product, Diet Rite. In 1962, Dr Pepper released a diet(etic) version of its soda. It sold slowly because people thought it was meant for diabetics. In 1963, the Coca-Cola Company joined the diet soda market with Tab, which was a huge success. It was originally sweetened with cyclamates and saccharin.

Tab, Diet Rite, and Fresca (a grapefruit-flavored soda introduced by Coca-Cola) were the only brand-name diet sodas on the market until Pepsi released Diet Pepsi in the 1960s (initially as Patio Diet Cola). Diet 7 Up was also released in 1963 under the name Like. It was discontinued in 1969 due to the US government ban of cyclamate sweetener. After reformulation, it was reintroduced as Diet 7 Up in 1970.[8] It was renamed Sugar Free 7 Up in 1973 then back to Diet 7 Up in 1979. Coca-Cola countered by releasing Diet Coke in 1982. After the release of Diet Coke, Tab took a backseat on the Coca-Cola production lines. Diet Coke could be more easily identified by consumers as associated with Coca-Cola than Tab. A study was released claiming that saccharin was a possible carcinogen,. Coca-Cola's decided to decrease production of Tab. Prompted by the rising popularity of soft drinks, in the mid-1980s some of those in the alcohol industry began to follow their lead with some beer companies putting sugar-free beer on the market.

By the early 1990s, many different companies had their own diet sodas on supermarket shelves. Tab made a comeback during the late 1990s, after new studies demonstrated that saccharin is not an important factor in the risk of cancer. Nevertheless, the Coca-Cola Company has maintained its 1984 reformulation, replacing some of the saccharin in Tab with NutraSweet.

By 2002, some soda companies had diversified to include such flavors as vanilla and lemon among their products, and diet sodas were soon being produced with those flavors as well (see Diet Vanilla Coke, Diet Pepsi Vanilla). By 2004, several alcohol companies had released sugar-free or "diet" alcoholic products too.[9]

Health concerns


There are health concerns of sugar substitutes and caffeine overuse.[10][11]

Changing the food energy intake from one food will not necessarily change a person's overall food energy intake, or cause a person to lose weight. One study,[12] suggested the opposite. Consumption of diet soda was correlated with weight gain.

An independent study by researchers with the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts, has turned up results which indicate that the consumption of diet soda correlates with increased metabolic syndrome. 48% of the subjects were at higher risk for weight gain and elevated blood sugar. Diet soda drinkers were less likely to consume healthy foods. Drinking diet soda flavored with artificial sweeteners more than likely increases cravings for sugar flavored sweets.[13]

A preliminary abstract presented by the University of Miami's Hannah Gardener linked daily consumption of diet soda to a 61% higher incidence of "vascular events" such as strokes and heart attacks, although Gardener acknowledged that these results could not be conclusively linked to harmful effects of diet soda itself, and may be the result of other behaviors.[14]

Among individuals who drink several regular sodas per day, diet soda may be a better choice, according to a website on dieting.[15] Animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners cause body weight gain, theoretically because of a faulty insulin response, at least in cattle and rats. Rats given sweeteners have steadily increased caloric intake, increased body weight, and increased fatness.[16] Adding saccharin to the food of calves increases their body weight as well.[17]

Reduced-calorie soda


In an effort to cash in on the surging popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, in 2004 both Coca-Cola and Pepsico released reduced-calorie versions of their flagship sodas that contain about half the sugar of the regular version. The Pepsi variant, Pepsi Edge, is sweetened with sucralose and corn syrup. The sweetening of the Coca-Cola variant, Coca-Cola C2, is a combination of corn syrup, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose. Pepsi discontinued Edge in 2005. Coca-Cola soon followed suit.

Half the sugar of a can of regular cola is still more sugar than many people on popular low-carbohydrate diets are permitted to have in a day. It is possible that these sodas are targeted, instead, at so-called "carb-conscious consumers" who are paying attention to, but not trying to drastically reduce, their carbohydrate intake.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Kowitt B (2017-02-22). "The Hunt for the Perfect Sugar". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  2. Chang K (2012-06-11). "Artificial Sweeteners: The Challenges of Tricking the Taste Buds". Well. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Stanford D (2015-03-19). "Scientists Are Racing to Build a Better Diet Soda". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  4. Kuhn C, Bufe B, Winnig M, Hofmann T, Frank O, Behrens M, et al. (November 2004). "Bitter taste receptors for saccharin and acesulfame K". The Journal of Neuroscience. 24 (45): 10260–5. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1225-04.2004. PMC 6730199. PMID 15537898.
  5. Riera CE, Vogel H, Simon SA, le Coutre J (August 2007). "Artificial sweeteners and salts producing a metallic taste sensation activate TRPV1 receptors". American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 293 (2): R626-34. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00286.2007. PMID 17567713.
  6. Allen AL, McGeary JE, Knopik VS, Hayes JE (June 2013). "Bitterness of the non-nutritive sweetener acesulfame potassium varies with polymorphisms in TAS2R9 and TAS2R31". Chemical Senses. 38 (5): 379–89. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjt017. PMC 3657735. PMID 23599216.
  7. Benjamin Siegel Archived 2011-01-22 at the Wayback Machine "Sweet Nothing: The Triumph of Diet Soda," American Heritage, June/July 2006.
  8. "Cadbury Global :: Our Brands :: History of our Brands". Archived from the original on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  9. "Sweet Nothing—The Triumph Of Diet Soda: It came out of a Brooklyn hospital and in very few years changed not only what Americans drink but how they see themselves" Archived 2010-09-20 at the Wayback Machine By Benjamin Siegel
  10. "Coffee Health Risks — Harvard Health Publications". 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  11. "Sweetener scrutiny: Are sugar substitutes a helpful tool or an ineffective crutch? -". Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  12. "Drink More Diet Soda, Gain More Weight? Overweight Risk Soars 41% With Each Daily Can of Diet Soft Drink" Archived 2005-10-28 at the Wayback Machine By Daniel J. DeNoon
  13. "Exploring a Surprising Link Between Obesity and Diet Soda" By TARA PARKER-POPE (July 24, 2007).
  14. "Daily Diet Soda Linked to Higher Risk for Stroke, Heart Attack" By Linda Carroll (February 10, 2011).
  15. Diet Soda and Weight Loss
  16. Swithers SE, Davidson TL. A role for sweet taste: calorie predictive relations in energy regulation by rats. Behav Neurosci. 2008 Feb;122(1):161-73.
  17. McMeniman JP, Rivera JD, Schlegel P, Rounds W, Galyean ML. Effects of an artificial sweetener on health, performance, and dietary preference of feedlot cattle. J Anim Sci. 2006 Sep;84(9):2491-500.