Diet Coke and all the lies we’ve been fed

Turns out Diet Coke isn’t about dieting at all. We’ve been lied to, like the characters in Soylent Green. This is a topic that I write about in my syndicated Chicago column this week in the Southwest News-Herald, Regional News and Des Plaines Valley Newspaper.

By Ray Hanania

RayHanania155x130I’ve been drinking Diet Coke since 1988 when my colleague at the Chicago City Hall Press Room Harry Golden Jr., died of cancer. Harry drank Coke and I drank Diet Pepsi so that when we mixed our six packs of pop each day in the Press Room refrigerator, we wouldn’t consume each other’s stash.

But when Harry died, I switched to the better tasting Diet Coke, believing that it would help me keep the weight off. Now, more than 26 years later, they say that Diet Coke is no better than any of the regular sugared colas.

Another lie.

I drank more than a dozen Diet Cokes a day. Sometimes as much as 24 cans of Diet Coke. I was hooked. Addicted to the caffeine, but worse, hooked on the lie that somehow drinking Diet Coke would help me maintain a better health.

I write about it in my syndicated Chicago column this week in the Des Plaines Valley News, the Southwest News-Herald, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter. Catch it this week.

English: Diet Coke Products

English: Diet Coke Products (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the meantime, check out this press release authored by a 50 year old Los Angeles father who ran a test and drank 10 cans of Diet Coke for 30 days:

The 50 year-old Los Angeles dad who drank 10 Cokes a day for 30 days and gained 23 lbs is once again testing the health effects of soda, as he consumes 10 Diet Cokes a day, also for 30 days. As in the earlier experiment, Prior is taking daily measurements of weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure, and blogging the results on his website:

Photo -
Photo -

“The most frequently-asked question people had after the 10 Cokes a day experiment,” says Prior, “was ‘what if it was Diet Coke?’  Would I have still gained weight? Or would there be other, even more dangerous, health issues? It’s a really important question, because Americans drink a lot of diet soda.”

Recent studies have linked diet soda to changes in the human gut bacteria that may cause weight gain or insulin resistance, and earlier studies have found that diet soda drinkers have a higher incidence of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes than people who don’t drink diet soda. There are also concerns about the dangers of aspartame, which may be poisonous to people with an aspartame sensitivity.

With only a few days to go in his experiment, Prior’s website reports that his weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar remain basically unchanged. “Physically, I feel great,” says Prior. “It has been much easier to drink the Diet Cokes - no energy swings, carb cravings, or weight gain. But I have to wait for the blood test results to see the full story.” Prior had extensive blood lab testing done before the experiment. “The Doctors TV Show set me up with an amazing endocrinologist, who took seven tubes of blood for tests. That’s where we may see this experiment turn out very badly for me.”

Prior says he was surprised by how little his health seemed affected by drinking 300 diet sodas in less than a month, but that the real surprise was discovering a strong public opinion against diet soda. “The passion and fear people have about diet soda in general is incredible,” he says. “People hate diet soda! Everyone warned me that this was a much more dangerous experiment than the one with regular sugared Coke. It seems like a cultural fear of the artificialness of diet soda. The idea that chemicals are just bad.”

About 20% of the entire U.S. population drinks diet soda on a daily basis, so if Prior’s experiment reveals real health dangers in diet soda drinking, millions of people may want to switch back to regular sugared soda. But Prior feels that the stakes are even higher for people who drink sugared sodas:

“If it turns out that we are exaggerating the dangers of diet soda, and discouraging people who drink regular sugared soda from switching, then that’s a terrible, terrible disservice,” he says. “We do know that the serious health consequences of eating sugar are hurting millions of people. If it turns out that diet soda’s not that bad, it could save a lot of lives.”

The results from Prior’s final blood tests will be available on his website at, along with charts of his physical changes over time, diet tips, diabetes facts, photos, and videos of his experiment.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

Hanania Chicago political beats and Chicago City Hall at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published the The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star of Lebanon, the News of the World in London, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, The Saudi Gazette, the Arab News in Jeddah, and Aramco Magazine.

Hanania's Chicagoland columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter newspapers.

He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]
Ray Hanania

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