Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

George Doyle/Getty Images

The question

How bad is diet pop for me? Will drinking one a day cause harm?

The answer

Story continues below advertisement

I certainly don't think that one serving of diet pop a day will cause any harm.

The controversy around diet pop - and other diet foods for that matter - revolves around artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose. There are many negative reports on the internet claiming that aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) causes brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures and Alzheimer's disease, but there's not a stitch of scientific evidence to support these claims.

Sucralose (Splenda) is often deemed more natural than other sugar substitutes because it's "made from sugar". While that's technically true, it's misleading. Sucralose is made using a multi-step chemical process that adds chlorine to sugar molecules.

Whole Foods Market does not carry products with sucralose (as well as aspartame and acesulfame potassium) based on the fact it's an artificial chemical which lacks long term data from human studies.

It's true that some experts remain wary of these chemicals. The safety of some of today's most widely consumed artificial sweeteners is based on studies conducted decades ago. In the case of acesulfame potassium (combined with other artificial sweeteners in foods), its safety is based on only a few animal studies.

If you drank a few servings of diet cola per day, I would be concerned about your bone health.

That's because one of the additives in colas, called phosphoric acid, can upset calcium balance in your body if you're not meeting your daily calcium requirements (1000 milligrams for adults to age 50; 1200 milligrams for older adults; 1300 milligrams for teenagers). While one a day is not a concern, if you do drink more be sure to get the calcium you need.

Story continues below advertisement

Send dietitian Leslie Beck your questions at dietitian@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Leslie Beck.

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies