Diet Soda and Dementia

The Lempert Report
January 19, 2022

The first and only time that I tasted this cocktail was in Bogota Columbia. I remember the trip vividly. I was at the convention center – a beautiful and ornate building with flowing arches and intricate carvings located on seventh avenue. The city’s distant cousin to New York city’s Fifth Avenue. The occasion was a food industry event and during the cocktail hour I asked for a Margarita. Of course I was south of the border and expected one of the best margarita’s I’ve ever tasted. Instead I was given a drink that was half gold tequila – yes you remember – the stuff that gave us all headaches in college and half Fresca, Coke’s infamous diet sort of grapefruit brand. Let me start out by saying what your taste buds are are imagining – yes, it was terrible. So I was a bit shocked to read that Coca-Cola has teamed up with Constellation Brands one of the world’s leading spirits (and tequila) and beer companies, to launch a line of Fresca based cocktails. While they didn’t share the varieties just yet – they have stated that the Fresca Mixes will be a new distinctive line of spirit based ready to drink cocktails. Distinctive for sure. And unless they have a brilliant mixologist at the helm – I shudder to think about doing a taste test. Maybe its just to offset Pepsi’s Boston Beer venture to launch a Hard Mountain Dew – but I have to ask the question if we need any of these on our store shelves? A 2017 study published in the journal Stroke found that diet sodas lead to a higher risk of dementia. The study kept track of 1,484 people over the age of 60 for a 10-year period and found that those who drank diet soda every day (compared to less than once a week) were three times more likely to develop the disease. The study did not only look at dementia, but also at the stroke risk that comes with regularly drinking diet soda, and found similar results. For this, researchers kept track of 2,888 people age 45 and over for the same 10-year period. They found that those who drank at least one diet soda a day were also about three times more likely "to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blood vessel blockage." I guess its possible that the tequila offsets the risk? I still question the likelihood of success – after all – taste matters.