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Side Effects of Carbonated Drinks

author image Dr. Tina M. St. John
Tina M. St. John runs a health communications and consulting firm. She is also an author and editor, and was formerly a senior medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. St. John holds an M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine.
Side Effects of Carbonated Drinks
They can be refreshing, but the probability of experiencing side effects from carbonated drinks increases as consumption increases. Photo Credit artisteer/iStock/Getty Images

On average, Americans consume more than 50 gallons of carbonated soft drinks each year, according to the 2005 USDA report, "Contributions of Nonalcoholic Beverages to the U.S. Diet." Although the ingredients in carbonated drinks are deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, these beverages may cause side effects, especially if you consume them on a regular basis. Familiarizing yourself with the possible side effects of carbonated drinks can help you make informed nutrition choices.

Belching and Heartburn

Carbonated beverages contain dissolved carbon dioxide, which becomes a gas when it warms to body temperature in your stomach. Consuming carbonated soft drinks may cause repeated belching as your stomach stretches from the accumulation of carbon dioxide gas. Food and stomach acid may come up your food pipe as you belch, causing heartburn and a sour taste in your mouth.

Increased Risk of Obesity

Consuming sugar-sweetened, carbonated drinks adds calories to your diet, which may increase your risk of overweight and obesity. In an April 2007 article published in the "American Journal of Public Health," Lenny Vartanian, Ph.D., and colleagues report that the risk of overweight and obesity associated with consumption of sugar-sweetened, carbonated beverages is greater for women than men and for adults compared to children and adolescents. Overweight and obesity are significant risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis.

Poor Nutrition

Consumption of carbonated soft drinks can adversely affect your overall nutrient intake. Drinking these beverages may reduce your consumption of proteins, starch, dietary fiber and vitamin B-2, also known as riboflavin. People who drink carbonated beverages also tend to eat less fruit and drink less fruit juice compared to those who do not drink sodas.

Tooth Decay

Regular and diet carbonated soft drinks can harm your teeth. Your mouth contains bacteria that feed on sugar, producing chemicals that can break down the hard enamel of your teeth. A cavity forms when erosion of the enamel exposes the soft, inner core of your tooth. When you drink sweetened, carbonated soda, the sugar remains in your mouth, promoting the processes that lead to tooth decay. The acid in these carbonated drinks further increase the likelihood of developing cavities, because these chemicals also slowly erode the enamel of your teeth.

Reduced Bone Strength

If you are a woman, consumption of cola-type, carbonated drinks may reduce your bone strength. In an October 2006 article published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," nutrition scientist Katherine Tucker, Ph.D., and colleagues report that women who consume regular and diet cola tend to have weaker hipbones compared to those who do not drink these beverages. The authors note that the degree of bone weakness correlates to the amount of cola consumed.

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