Is Drinking 12 Diet Cokes A Day Healthy? Coke Thinks So.

We’re going to go ahead and say, “No.” We say this knowing nothing about medicine or chemistry or science. We’re guessing that drinking 144 oz, of anything that is not water per day is not the best idea. Amanda Sanchez, however, is not so concerned. She drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day. Every day. From ABC News:

“There is some evidence that the acid load of soda, regular or diet, has an adverse affect on bone health,” said Dr. David Katz, nutrition expert at the Yale School of Medicine. “I would be very worried that if you are drinking 12 cans a day, diet or regular, it’s potentially going to do damage to your skeleton, and eventually that can be a very serious problem.

Coke isn’t concerned about Amanda or her skeleton:

“Great taste. No calories. Wholesome ingredients. How could you drink too much?” said Diana Garza, the communications director of Coca-Cola North America.

We don’t know, Diana. We’re just guessing that it’s possible, and that we should drink soda in moderation. It’s just a hunch.—MEGHANN MARCO

Woman Drinks 12 Diet Cokes a Day [ABCNews]
(Photo: kilgore)


Edit Your Comment

  1. reeg2 says:

    I’d like to dispute the wholesome ingredients and great taste claims…

  2. Xabora says:

    Wow, marketing built right into a reply…

    “Great taste. No calories. Wholesome ingredients. How could you drink too much?” said Diana Garza, the communications director of Coca-Cola North America.

  3. mopar_man says:

    My sister-in-law isn’t named Amanda but they have the same horrible habit. She drinks Diet Mountain Dew all day. She can’t go to a relative or friend’s house without bringing her own supply along. She won’t drink water or any other liquid and she wonders why she’s on a bazillion different medications for this and that. Yet tell her that she should be drinking water instead and she’ll tell you there’s nothing wrong with what’s doing. Idiot.

  4. Beerad says:

    I drink a LOT of Diet Coke every day, but nowhere near 12 cans’ worth. Still, I nearly burst out laughing at “Wholesome ingredients? How could you drink too much?” Please, megacorporations, could you just not blatantly insult our intelligence quite so much?

  5. Kifune says:


    For real…what’s wholesome about:

    Carbonated Water
    Caramel Color
    Phosphoric Acid
    Potassium Benzoate (to protect taste)
    Natural Flavors
    Citric Acid

    Well…maybe the water.

  6. AtomikB says:

    I had a friend who lived almost exclusively on Diet Coke and chocolate cake, and she died of brain cancer at age 29. Maybe there’s no connection, but you know there is that FDA warning that aspartame causes cancer in lab animals. Why risk your brain? Don’t overdo the diet soda.

  7. grkgus says:

    This guy at my job drinks a 2 liter bottle of diet coke every day, during the work day.

  8. acambras says:

    WHOLESOME? Hardly.

    I drink way too much Diet Coke. Yesterday I had 5 12-oz. cans. I’m trying to cut back and drink more water. Much better for you, and cheaper, too.

  9. enm4r says:

    If I had to choose, I’d go with 12 cans of soda over 3 or 4 super mega ultimate Starbucks expressos or whatever else down there costs $5+ a drink, or over 3 or 4 energy drinks a day.

  10. Yourhero88 says:

    “Great taste. No calories. Wholesome ingredients. How could you drink too much?” said Diana Garza moments before lighting a cigar with a severed baby’s arm clutching a wad of $100 bills.

    Still, I guess it’s better than drinking 12 cups of coffee a day, which, given most people’s frequency to carry around those gargantuan dunkin’ donuts coffee cups, is pretty commonplace.

  11. lilyHaze says:

    I got addicted to Vanilla Coke (RIP) back in college [but it was still only a bottle a week or so]. I never understood how people could drink Diet Coke. I’d rather drink water than the aspartame.

    I’ve cut back on my soda intake (maybe one or two a month). When I need a carbonated fix, I drink a little fruit juice mixed with seltzer water. I get fizzy, but very little sugar.

  12. roche says:

    12 beers a day on the other hand, that is a whole different story.

  13. hypnotik_jello says:

    And you wonder why so many people are sick in this country. Could is be the food and drink we’re (as a society) consuming? Nah, not likely at all…

  14. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Reminds me of the movie “Idiocracy.” The government banned water and used some soft drink exclusively. The shit was even in water fountains and farm irrigation systems. The only redeeming thing about it was that it had electrolytes–even though nobody knew what they were.

  15. macdude22 says:

    I’m convinced drinking that much Diet Soda would be hazardous to your health. I used to drink a ton, probably 6+ cans a day of Diet Dew or Vault Zero for the past few years. In the last 8 months or so I would get muscle twitches everywhere, above my eye, randomly on my arms and legs, it was incredibly annoying. In researching muscle spasms I happened by and article on aspartame asserting that it was damaging to the human neurological system. I stopped drinking diet soda flat out and low and behold within a month the spasms had ceased.

    To test my theory a few weeks later I started drinking Vault Zero again, within days I slowly started to experience the spasms again. I now drink water and coffee. If I have to have my soda fix its one made with sugar (none of this corn BS) usually Mexican Coke or something from Jones. While not scientifically conclusive I’m personally convinced that aspartame indeed does have an adverse affect on the human neurological systems. What really long term exposure to the substance could cause I don’t know, I’m certainly not going to continue to use it to find out.

  16. nighttrain2007 says:

    I drink probably the equal to it in Diet Sundrop. And I’ve been doing it for well over 10 years. Before diet drinks I did the same on regular for 15 years prior. At least two 20 oz during the day and then a two liter at night. I don’t drink water except during daily exercise. Is it healthy? No. Do I care? No

  17. QuirkyRachel says:

    Mmmm, aspartame and Potassium Benzoate. Remember the good ‘ol days when you could go to the local farmer’s market and get those freshly grown and wholesome?

  18. bambino says:

    A girl in one of my college classes ended up in the hospital after drinking a 24-can case of dr. pepper in 2 days. Just sayin’.

  19. TinaB says:

    I have a friend that was just in the hospital last week with stomach pains. Turns out all that Dr. Pepper he was drinking was eating away at the lining in his stomach, and now he has to lay off the soda.

  20. faust1200 says:

    Yeah but diet soda is part of so many healthy diets:

    “Yeah I’ll have the double bacon cheesburger, biggie fries, and a diet coke.”

    Yes friends, the brain needs at least 2 things to operate. Oxygen and SUGAR (well glucose anyway)

  21. tcp100 says:

    How can these people drink that much -liquid-, nevermind diet coke.

    144 oz? Jeez, do they spend half their lives in the bathroom?

  22. demonradio says:

    Drinking lots of caffeinated soda (diet or otherwise) can also give you cravings (like most anything with caffeine). This is why it’s generally a good idea to try to avoid soda all together when you’re dieting or even just trying to eat healthy.

    This woman probably doesn’t get hungry all the time though. Her tummy is full of bone rotting soda.

  23. clementine says:

    I try to limit my soda consumption to one can a day but my goodness, if I can tell the difference in the color of my teeth when I drink more than one a day, imagine the tooth color of a 144 ouncer! If she even has any left. Don’t people clean their toilets and marinate meat with soda pop?

  24. Tallanvor says:

    Yeah, that “wholesome” bit is a load of crap. –Anyone who believes that Diet Coke (or any other diet drink, no matter how much I love Diet Pepsi) is “wholesome”, probably deserves what they get.

    That said, Dr. Katz, there could have been a bit more helpful. –If the soda is harmful for the bones, does she believe that extra calcium would help compensate? That would help increase her standing in my eyes.

  25. gamble says:

    Just thinking about drinking that much soda makes me feel gross.

    Plus, diet soda tastes disgusting.

  26. tracilyns says:

    @macdude22: do you have a link to that article? that sounds interesting

  27. kimsama says:

    @mopar_man: Water? Like, out the toilet?

    But Diet Coke’s got electrolytes.

  28. wonderskunk says:

    My dentist told me that the carbonation process is what makes all fizzy drinks, even sparkling mineral water, extremely acidic and very very bad for teeth and bones.

  29. “Great taste. No calories. Wholesome ingredients. How could you drink too much?” said Diana Garza…

    Umm…didn’t a woman die from drinking too much water a little while ago after a radio contest?

    If you can drink too much water you can drink too much of anything!

  30. The Bigger Unit says:

    Kind of on-topic, kinda off…a couple years ago I’ll never forget seeing an extremely large man at a Wendy’s with the biggest fucking tankard (best word I can think of to describe it) to hold soda I’ve ever seen. He waddled over to the fountain machine, and got extremely pissed when it sputtered and stopped dispensing Coke (umm, not diet) after he filled it about half-way.

    I still think the staff saw him trying to fill his “bucket-with-handle” and turned off the damn tap. It was ridiculous.

  31. Indecision says:

    From the article:

    “If anything goes wrong, I will just grab a diet soda and it’s all better.”

    The very definition of an unhealthy addiction.

    You know what’s worse, though? Wholesome. I can’t freaking believe it. I would like Diana Garza to explain to us how things like aspartame, potassium benzoate, and caffeine are “conducive to sound health or well-being.”

    Personally, I don’t even need the dictionary definition to tell you that Diet Coke is just as “wholesome” as it is “organic.”

  32. WMeredith says:

    Here’s what happens to your body if you drink a coke right now:

    Granted that’s for a normal Coke, but even if you take out the sugar part, it’s still pretty awful. And I’m not exactly sold on Aspartame being “wholesome” anyway.

  33. alu says:

    “Umm…didn’t a woman die from drinking too much water a little while ago after a radio contest?”

    It’s more so the high volume in very short amount of time which causes death by too much water.

    in this case, it’s 144oz over 12-16 hours.

  34. alu says:
  35. MaliBoo Radley says:

    I’ve known people that drink huge amounts of coke/pepsi. They tend to get kidney stones. Not good.

  36. Starfury says:

    I used to be a 5+ can per day Diet Coke drinker, my wife was drinking about the same amount of Coke daily. She read an article about caffiene addiciton so we both decided to cut down. I drink 1-2 cans per day now and drink a lot more water. It’s saved us a few $$ by not buying as much soda as we used to.

  37. 2Legit2Quit says:

    I drink 2 liters a day from school through work. I also drink a lot of water, but I’m hooked on Coke like it’s still cocaine.

  38. revmatty says:

    That’s astounding. I used to drink soda at lunch most days, but cut back as part of a general attempt at eating a slightly more healthy diet. I now drink about 1-2 sodas per month. I can’t even finish an entire one in a day as the chemicals and carbonation start irritating my throat.

    However, I work in computers. A substantial minority of programmers fit the stereotype of drinking 2-liter bottles of Jolt or Mountain Dew or whatever every day. It’s why they have such awesome physiques.

  39. Red_Eye says:

    Hell no it ain’t healthy. When I was in my 20’s i worked in an auto parts salvage yard. At the time I was a soda junkie, consuming about the same amount as the person in this story. At the time there weren’t nearly as many warnings as now (this was 15 years ago).

    Now what do I have to show for my soda consumption(habit). Well despite having tried to take good care of my teeth they a wreck. I have had dentists flat out tell me I am a liar when I say I brush twice a day. I’m also overweight, get headaches without adequate caffeine during a day and have had kidney stones. I have permanent splits in the corners of my mouth that are aggravated badly by drinking Dew (my drink of choice since i first tasted it at Taco Bell in the early 80’s) no doctor or dentist has ever been able explain these splits.

    Thank goodness they are pulling the #$@#$ soda vending machines out of schools. I would say my significant habit lasted for 7 years. After that i have tapered off and now drink a few sodas a week.

  40. EditorPerson says:

    I had a coworker who drank Diet Cokes all day at work, and she contantly complained about severe migraines. She would even leave work early some days, that’s how bad they were, yet her hand was never far from a can or bottle of Diet Coke.

    I guess it never occurred to her to equate her migranes and poor health the chemicals she was putting into her body day after day.

  41. says:

    I bet Amanda Sanchez will be suing Coca Cola in a few decades when she’s got severe osteoporosis. “They said it was wholesome!”

    and @Tallanvor: they were discussing this (or a similar) study on the radio recently; regardless of calcium intake, drinking more than one or two colas a week had a noticeable impact on bone density. Apparently it’s the phosphoric acid that causes the most problems. (And that’s all the science I can bring to the discussion, unfortunately.)

  42. MonkeyMonk says:

    And I was drinking a Diet Coke when I started the read this. Thanks for ruining my morning Consumerist. I think I’ll make a pot of coffee instead.

  43. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    Hmm..i am by no means doubting that Diet Coke is bad for some. Let me see..i am 24 years old. My dad has drank NOTHING but Diet Coke since as long as i remember. No water, juice..NOTHING. Diet Coke only. Before that he drank Dr. Pepper. With as much coke as my dad drinks, he should be on the board of directors because he made that company a small fortune!! He is in the worst health of anyone i know. Anytime i find out something bad has happened, i immidiately think its about my dad. He is about 315lbs. and gets very edgy if he does not get his Diet Coke. I have tried to get him to stop, but he says “gotta die of something right”? What an answer dad.

  44. leejames says:

    Why is this national news? This screams local news “Channel X Target Investigation” that airs at 4:30 on Friday afternoon.

    Next up we’ll be seeing the account of her terrible withdrawal from small amounts of caffeine, as The Onion so masterfully detailed in Woman’s Day writer recounts own harrowing battle with caff…

  45. MattyMatt says:

    @Red_Eye: The splits in the corner of your mouth might be angular cheilitis, aggravated by moisture and/or sugar, or by vitamin deficiency. Try taking an iron/B12 supplement, apply clotrimazole, discontinue using chapstick as that can cause reinfection, and also boil your toothbrush (and anything else you repeatedly put in your mouth) after each use. I’m not a doctor, but that’s what works for me.

    Also, the “Wholesome ingredients” line is like something out of an Onion article.

  46. lihtox says:

    Correlation is not causation. Knowing someone who a) drinks a lot of soda, and b) has some/a lot of health problems, is not strong enough to link the two.

    BTW, here’s Wikipedia’s take (with references) on the effect of phosphoric acid on bone structure.

  47. smartwatermelon says:

    I drink a lot of Diet Coke at the office, but I self-limit by drinking one 16.9oz bottle of water between each 12oz can. And yes, I have to use the bathroom pretty often. It’s an excuse to get up and stretch!

  48. lincolnparadox says:

    Wow, that is a lot of urban legends. So, here’s the science:

    Any acid that you put in your body, like the acid in soda or juice, is buffered by proteins and ions in your blood. Once you go beyond that buffering capacity, then you might start to leech calcium from your bones. Over a long period of time, I could see this becoming an issue, but only if you’re over 50. Beyond that, the acid might give you a tummyache.

    Caffeine comes in a few different types. The caffeine in coffee and soda is different than the caffeine in tea, for example. The caffeine in soda is a diuretic, a chemical that makes your body lose water. That’s why doctor’s say that the fluid gained from coffee and caffeinated beverages doesn’t count, because you just pee out everything that you take in. Beyond that, caffeine increases your blood flow and metabolism, and helps you to stay awake during 8am classes.

    Aspartame (brand name Nutrasweet) is an artificial sweetener composed of two amino acids, aspartate and phenyalanine. Neither of these amino acids are harmful to your average person, and they are found in all sorts of proteins that we would consume otherwise. However, these amino acids are connected with a methyl ester linkage, which becomes methanol if the sweetener degrades in the body. Methanol is toxic and its physiological breakdown products are carcinogenic. What causes the breakdown of aspartame? Heat (like the summer sun or your warm belly) and acid (like the acid in soda or the acid in yer gullet). Now, studies have shown that aspartame doesn’t directly cause cancer (phew!). However, the breakdown products of methanol (formaldehyde and formic acid) do end up in the brain, liver and kidneys (that’s bad).

    It doesn’t really matter much, though. Aspartame has been off patent for a few years now. So, most companies are switching over to sucralose. And you don’t even want to know how that stuff is made.

    Drink water. Drink tea. Drink juice or milk or beer. If you have to use a calorie-free sweetener, try stevia powder. It is “all-natural” and doesn’t cause any know health issues. They’ve been using it in Japan for almost 40 years.

  49. Chicago7 says:

    OK, I drink and have drunk way more than that (twice that daily) since about 1975 or so. I’m not dead yet.

    Aspartame and brain cancer? What study showed that? Aspartame is one of the most studied food additives ever.

    To the person who had a friend who lived on chocolate cake and diet soda and got brain cancer? Do you think there may have been something else going on there? Just maybe?

    As for bone density, would a piece of cheese a day cancel out the diet soda effect? Or maybe a Tums?

    That’s an interesting study on the Wikipedia, lihtox. Caffeine might be a bigger problem, so all you tea and coffee drinkers should beware!

  50. Chicago7 says:

    lincolnparadox, you post SOUNDS like an urban legend. I’m not saying it is, but it sounds like it. Can you cite sources?

    How it the caffeine in soda different from the caffeine in tea, for example? Have there been any studies on stevia, or are you just assuming it’s better because it comes from a plant?

    All the studies I can see that show Aspartame is bad for you are from “holistic medicine” people and “Aspartame detox” sites, which are not necessarily the most trustworthy.

  51. Pipes says:

    @lilyHaze: They’re currently reintroducing Vanilla Coke. Celebrate!

    If anything, it can’t be good for her teeth. I used to drink approximately 2 liters of Mt Dew per day, and whammo, 16 cavities. Not that I should have been surprised, but it came as a real shock and was the catalyst to cutting back my caffeine addiction. I allow myself one glass per day, that’s it, but it’s mostly water, juice, or soy milk now.

  52. Chicago7 says:

    Pipes, it’s DIET coke she’s drinking. Never had a cavity since I stopped drinking sugar.

    You should check the sugar content on juices. It’s very high. Calories are extremely high on juices, as well.

  53. suburbancowboy says:

    Aspartame is carcinogenic. It was never supposed to be legal for use in beverages, but your friends at Monsanto have so much pull with the FDA, that it got approved no problem. In beverages, aspartame becomes highly volatile and breaks down into carcinogens.

    It is also a neurotoxin. It tricks your body into thinking it tastes good by altering the chemical levels in your brain. That is why many people who consume aspartame have short term memory problems, and trouble sleeping.
    Other side effects include:
    Seizures and convulsions, arthritic and joint pain, chronic fatigue, depression, memory loss, vision damage and loss, tingling in the extremities, slurring of speech, irritability, severe anxiety attacks, menstrual problems, blood sugar control problems, symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis, worsening of fibromyalgia, parkinson’s tremors, etc., etc.

    I’ll definitely take the non-diet version thank you.

  54. Kaien says:

    I’m curious, as quite a few members in my family consume such products in excessive amounts. I myself, consume regular Dr. Pepper (about 4~5 cans a day sometimes, not always); but I drink water in-between 2 cans if not during each can with milk in the morning and sometimes at night.

    Could any complications be caused by the amounts I consume? I know my body is very used to sodas, but I can’t consume them all the time or solely (my body rejects it). Also, if I do not drink such a product within about a month or two, my body starts acting weird, so I know I can’t live on milk or water alone.

    Any comments?

    Btw, I love this site. Very informative and helpful commenters :)

  55. AcidReign says:

    …..I’m a soft-drink (NOT diet) addict. Dr. Pepper is the best, but Pepsi, Mtn. Dew, or any of the sugary, carbonated variety are great! One of the coolest things about being an adult and having a job was that you COULD drink these things all day, starting with breakfast, and no one was going to tell you “no!” That is, till the dental bills start going up..

    …..I’m still drinking too many soft drinks, but I’ve now got it down to under one a day. For most of my fluid intake these days, I keep a melting gigantic movie cup of ice around. And I feel a whole lot better…

  56. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    That is why many people who consume aspartame have short term memory problems, and trouble sleeping.

    I was married to a guy whose older sister was a hospital nurse. All the nurses used to drink Diet Coke like it was life support. Then they started noticing how often they made stupid mistakes on charts, medications, paperwork… Someone did some research and got them to give up diet sodas for a month and the error rate increase went away.

    So if anyone tells you it’s their body and they can drink anything they want to, make sure they aren’t your intensive care nurse.

  57. ShadowFalls says:

    It is worse drinking Diet Coke than it is Coke, the side effects of Aspartame are noticeable, more especially in the long-term, not to mention the withdrawal symptoms. Caffeine does this too, but it is not as bad, imagine going from Diet Coke to just water, it will be a struggle.

  58. asherchang says:

    wholesome ingredients?

  59. swalve says:

    Define wholesome. It’s a meaningless PR word.

    So much ignorance here. If aspartame turns into methanol in the presence of heat and acid, couldn’t I just heat up a can and test for methanol? Since there’s citric, carbolic and phosphoric acid in there?

    Yeah, I get twitchy when I take trucker speed too. I bet it’s from the nutrasweet though.

  60. Indecision says:

    @Chicago7: “Pipes, it’s DIET coke she’s drinking. Never had a cavity since I stopped drinking sugar.”

    Soda promotes cavities because the acidity wears down the enamel on your teeth. Sugar makes the effect worse, but it’s not the only factor.

  61. mconfoy says:

    and eating fiber prevents colon cancer, whoops. Doctors swore it had to be. Science said no. I drink flavored water, crystal light, and diet sodas as 90% of my liquid consumption. I have yet to have a doctor tell me its a problem. And the amount of acid that I get from the heartburn of reading these type of articles and comments is way beyond the acid in 12 sodas. Science please, not feel good, all natural is good opinions. When people ate an all natural diet before processed food, their life expectancy was less than 50 years.

  62. Her Grace says:

    @mconfoy: Unrelated correlation, you lose. When people ate an all natural diet before processed food, they also lacked many of the medical advances we have today that can prolong life and allow more children to live (like vaccines and sterilization, at the most basic). The only arguement you might be able to make for some sort of “all natural=early death” argument, as far as food goes, is pasteurization. What a dumb post.

    I switched to diet sodas my last year of college, after having been extremely resitricted as a kid and then going wild when I first moved into the dorm. I gained a lot of weight, and a lot of it was probably because of the sugary pop I was constantly downing (part of it was Zoloft killing my metabolism, though). I switched because I wanted to drink something a little healther while maintaining my pop addiction. I did noticed after a few months that my head and memory felt fuzzier, and quit them. Things have improved, but not back to ‘normal’.

    I don’t often drink pop of any sort, now–my main drink of choice is 2-4 cups of coffee a day. I make a very strong coffee and cut it with milk, so I pretend I’m getting dairy in there, too.

  63. simonln007LN says:

    When I was 12 I won a year supply of Pepsi (I think it was about 1200 cans). After a while I became chemically physically addicted to it. I would have strongs cravings for it & would even be woken up in the middle of the night needing it (a fix). I don’t know what ingredient(s) in it are addictive, but it wasn’t the sugar, because I only craved Pepsi, not other drinks or foods that ccontained sugar. In my 20s I weened myself off of sodas & coffee, now I’m 36 & only drink bottled water, unsweet tea, & pure juices. Sugar & caffine are drugs & poison, period. Its ok to splurge once in a while, but to try to sustain your body on poisons is biological suicide. Also, try to eat lots of whole uncooked unprocessed foods, preferably fruit & vegetables. Also take high quality vitamins, not the crap you find at most stores, but from health food stores (made by cold pressed method of whole foods). Good luck!

  64. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I’d drink that much Diet Coke in a day if it weren’t so expensive.

    As far as I’m concerned, it can’t be any worse than my smoking habit.

  65. lincolnparadox says:

    @Chicago7: I just grabbed my most recent edition of Stryer’s Biochemistry and Johnson’s Human Biology, and looked up the specifics. However, if it makes you feel better, I do have a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology.

  66. mconfoy says:

    @Her Grace:
    No it was all zoloft. please, the point i was trying to make is you have no scientific basis for this nonsense. you noticed something that had nothing to do with “pop” (except that tells us you are from the midwest)since you seem to be the only person making this claim and certainly have no science to back it. i got through grad school engineering on diet sodas with caffeine, give me a break.

  67. dgcaste says:

    Caffeine is a mild diuretic, so you actually dehydrate yourself quite often and it leads to wanting to drink more fluid. Since you’re addicted to the caffeine itself, you drink more. My mother-in-law drinks at least 12 or 14 a day, and I’ve seen more. Assuming the person sleeps 8 hours at night, that’s almost one an hour.

  68. dgcaste says:

    @mconfoy: Where’s your medical backing to say that it’s OK? your doctors say it’s OK to do this, or you just forgot to mention it? Go to your doctor tomorrow and tell him what you posted – that 90% of your fluid intake is diet soda and diet drinks, and ask him if it’s a healthy choice.

  69. AmericaTheBrave says:

    I’m addicted to moderation.