Some People Are a Little Nervous About American Kids Drinking So Much Diet SodaS

Soda is a bummer, you guys — science has told us so. Sugary beverages can lead to diabetes and being imprisoned forever in Michael Bloomberg's Panopticon. Even diet sodas can wreak gruesome, tooth-melting havoc on their imbibers, so it's a little distressing to the researchers behind a new diet soda survey that so many American kids seem to be guzzling diet soda as if it were regular soda.

Based on data gathered as part of a 2008 federal health survey, researchers discovered that 12.5 percent of American kids are drinking artificially sweetened colas, pops, teas and whatever miscellaneous, radioactively prismatic drinks exist in our local groceries. That's a six percent increase from a decade earlier, and though it's not all that weird to see that more kids are drinking diet soda what with mounting concern over how awful and poisonous sugar seems to be nowadays, senior researcher Dr. Miriam B. Vos, of Emory University in Atlanta said that the spike in diet beverage consumption among kids was a little unexpected.

Though Vos admits that healthcare professionals want to see kids drinking less sugar, she warns that "there are no studies that have looked at the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners in growing children." Diet drinks contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, which may be linked to metabolic changes leading to subsequent weight gain. Vos explains that animal research has raised concerns about diet soda intake, and, though she isn't outright ringing the health alarm and saying diet drinks are murdering our children, she does think that maybe kids should slow their roll with diet soda and, you know, drink some milk or even that super-cool new drink that all the kids love — H20.

One itsy bitsy caveat to this research is that the federal health survey only included questions about what Americans ate or drank in the past 24 hours, so obviously some more extensive research is needed to figure out what eating habits people are actually getting into. Vos says that future studies need to focus on what kids are imbibing over longer periods of time, the better to figure out if, for example, diet soda is really melting their teeth and destroying their metabolisms, the way it does to all those poor, helpless lab mice scientists torture on a regular basis in order to help us stop drinking soda.

American kids downing more diet drinks [Reuters via MSNBC]