America For Beginners

Bringing American culture closer to new immigrants

[Difference of the Week] America Runs on Diet or Why Do Americans Drink Diet Soda?

diet soda in America This difference of the week article is going to be a little more than just a short note. I’m going to talk about diet coke and this topic is serious, the product is too ingrained in everyday life and, consequently, deserves, special attention. When I say diet coke I also  mean all kinds of diet soft drinks, coke just being most promoted and most consumed.

A few things: I don’t want to get myself into an argument about pros and cons of diet coke  from medical point of view because I am not a specialist in this sphere. All I know is what I  see on a regular basis, and I see people drinking huge amounts of diet. Really huge.

So, I’ve done some  Internet research and found an extensive list of all side effects and misconceptions concerning diet soda products and if you’re interested here are some useful links:

My goal, however, is not to state the obvious. I’m curious about the reasons behind diet soda consumption and people’s perception of the product. In other words, why is diet soda so popular in America?

What’s happening:

  • ·The term Diet is ambiguous, diet soda is not a recommended diet product.
  • ·People misunderstand the concept. I see so many folks eating burgers- french fries-mayo meals happily washing them down with diet pepsi. My question is – are they aware of the real impact of diet soda on their health? Is that a weak, not so say more, attempt to go healthy? Or, they think that each contribution counts and this little sacrifice of switching to diet soda is going to help? The other extremity is people concerned with healthy living, nutrition, and so on. Those guys order grilled chicken& steamed veggies and again a DIET! How come? How about artificial sweeteners, aspartame, caffeine, etc.?
  • ·The information about diet sodas can be easily found, there are plenty of forums, discussions and anti-diet soda articles all over the Internet.
  • ·Many people argue that there’s actually no alternative, which is half true. Diet sodas are the first thing that comes to your mind(some of our minds), the rest of regular popular beverages might be, in fact, same bad thing of another brand name, milk, as they say, has hormones and allergens, for example. Let’s not forget about  good old H20, teas and juices, however.

I always search for answers in the culture of a country. No other country is as obsessed with diet soda as America. Europeans have ”light coke” versions but the sales aren’t so impressive. Why?

Here is what can be the explanation from a cultural point of view: Good intentions. Americans are the nation characterized by health and calorie consciousness. It doesn’t mean that it is an overall healthy country, of course, but  people here have affordable gyms, great choice of healthy food, etc in a weird combination with high obesity rates. The word ‘diet’ itself has a positive connotation (diet = good).

Moreover, going deeper into American culture we see that health is life and the image of a successful person is closely interconnected with wise nutrition choices. Diet soda products sound perfect in this sense. The concept of diet coke corresponds with such cultural values and trends as movement, living in the now, quick results, go get approach, healthy living, calories consciousness. Basically, marketing campaigns created excellent bait for consumers – get what you want (sweet drink) which is good for you (wrong assumption) plus you pay the same and no special effort is involved. With all the advertising, things get more and more ridiculous. I saw a couple of diet coke ads at my fitness club and I honestly can’t help thinking that it is an oxymoron.

Diet soda is a wolf in sheep’s clothing but this clothing seems to fit current American culture.  Doesn’t it?


4 comments on “[Difference of the Week] America Runs on Diet or Why Do Americans Drink Diet Soda?

  1. vincemillett
    April 12, 2011

    I’m not American but British, I drink Diet Coke. Why? In a country that grows plenty of fruit, fresh fruit juices are way past my budget most of the time. They are expensive here. I have no idea why. Water is boring so I want something with a taste. Normal Coke is massively high in sugar – I don’t want to develop diabetes. So – Diet Coke it is. And if I do indulge in a 1,000 calorie burger, then a Diet Coke means it remains a 1,000 calorie meal instead of a 1,300 calorie meal. Every little counts!

  2. Patrick Macnab
    May 12, 2011

    Hello, i thought this was an interesting article. I used to work in fast food, and theres generally a shared laughter at the customers who order the largest meals possible (upwards of 2000 calories in some cases) who also insist on ordering the largest diet soda drink size available. Usually this kind of person is heavily overweight or obese. On the other hand you have incredibly skinny girls who only drink diet sodas ( usually with likewise unhealthy diets) who labor to achieve a picturesque figure.

    Of course, the world knows we have problems with self image!

  3. Raine
    September 11, 2012

    I think you’re right. We’re obsessed with Diet everything. I’m sure if we could hate diet cars and clothes we would. I drink regular everything (but products without corn syrup. It makes my teeth feel slimey. Have you noticed that?). I wish we got off our diet fad and got on the ‘eat healthy’ fad. It’s part of the reason I moved to Colorado, which is one of the ‘fittest’ places I’ve been . Lots of Green shopping, fresh ingredients, outdoor activities. I find that people here eat lots of ‘non-dietetic foods’ but are generally healthier, weight-appropriate and more physically active. Have you noticed the huge thing with carbs as well? I had one English friend ask if noodles were okay or if I was watching my carbs.

    About eating huge calorie meals and having a diet drink: I used to work at Starbucks, and someone would order a venti (the largest, 24oz[even tho venti means 20…]) frappucino which is 500 or so calories and then ask for no whip cream…

    Of course some ppl drink diet because they’re diabetic or don’t like the taste of regular…

  4. Limo in Plano
    June 18, 2013

    Excellent blog here! Also your web site loads up very fast!
    What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

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