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The Worst Side Effect of Drinking Soda, Says Dietitian

Keep an eye out for this sugary consequence.

Few can deny that soda sales have been getting stronger. According to Financial Times, Pepsi's brands have gained considerable ground in 2021, while Coca-Cola reported strong growth in the second quarter of this year. While these drinks continue to skyrocket in popularity, they can wreak havoc on your health.

If you love to indulge in this drink from time to time, you have to make sure to keep an eye on how the drink affects your weight.

"All of us have a certain percentage and distribution of fat within our bodies that is referred to as either subcutaneous fat or visceral fat," says Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, author of The Nourished Brain. "Subcutaneous fat is the jiggly fat visible just under the skin and is generally harmless. Visceral fat is found deep within the abdominal area that surrounds major organs like the liver, pancreas, and intestines."

A possible tell-tale sign of accumulation of visceral fat is an expanding waistline.

"If you're wondering why you've accumulated belly fat, it could be because of drinking sodas too often, backed by a 2016 study which found people who drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 10% increase in packing visceral fat," says Mussatto.

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The American Heart Association supports these statements, directly linking certain types of body fat to conditions like heart disease or diabetes. 

"Even though we can't see visceral fat, it's considered 'metabolically active' and is associated with numerous conditions such as increasing insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, glucose intolerance, high triglycerides, inflammation, all increasing risk of heart attacks, stroke, and type 2 diabetes," says Mussatto. "Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and about 34 million Americans (1 in 10) have type 2 diabetes, a condition that can lead to serious health complications if not controlled. Basically, an accumulation of visceral fat packs a strong wallop to our overall health."

This accumulation of fat also ties to other terrible conditions.

"The summative negative effect of drinking soda does not lead to a single entity," says Dr. Eva Gamallo RMT, MD, medical consultant at Sensible Digs. "Instead, it causes a derangement of symptoms leading up to what we call metabolic syndrome. This consists of increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels."

"Looking into local statistics, 6 in 10 youth (63%) and 5 in 10 adults (49%) drank a sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day," continues Gamallo. "These numbers are pretty alarming because studies have shown that even a minimum amount of two servings of sugar-sweetened drinks per week was linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. As much as five sugar-sweetened beverages a week put individuals at risk for metabolic syndrome."

If you love soda but want to enjoy some healthier options, you still have some pretty great options available. Replace those sugary beverages with one of these 25 Healthy, Low-Sugar Soda Alternatives instead!

For even more healthy drinking tips, read these next:

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich
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