Coca-Cola’s fantasy world
“There is no scientific evidence that connects sugary beverages to obesity.”
That sounds just about as ridiculous as quotes from those tobacco execs who used to claim that smoking had nothing to do with lung cancer, doesn’t it? Yet when those words escaped the lips of Katie Bayne, Coca-Cola’s president and general manager of sparkling beverages, she expected us to believe them.
Yeah, right. Sorry Katie, but we’re wise to the effects of sugar on health. No matter how you try to spin it, sugar’s bad news. And not just for your waistline.
Bayne’s ridiculous claim to USA Today was offered up as the beverage industry scrambled to find some ground to stand on in the recent “war on sugary beverages” launched by Mayor Bloomberg in New York City. Too bad the industry’s pushback doesn’t hold any water. Or, as I’m sure they’d prefer, Coke.
Let’s have a look at the claims being made by Coke’s rep:
Claim #1: Sugary drinks can be part of any diet if you’re watching your calories. Coke’s doing people a favor by providing all drink sizes someone might “need.”
First of all, nobody NEEDS any size serving of soda. But Coke’s confusion between a “need” and a “want” is the least of our worries here. There’s simply no place in any diet for a beverage that offers plenty of calories but zero nutritional value.
Claim #2: People rely on the carbohydrates and energy in Coke. Ms. Bayne goes so far as to claim her son needs a “pick-up with calories and great taste” after school.
What in the world is wrong with a banana or handful of raw almonds when your son needs that “pick-up”? There’s absolutely no reason to substitute soda for a snack of real, wholesome food. The last thing a teen needs heading into a night of homework is a sugar spike followed by a major crash.
Claim #3: Coke offers hydration, which is essential to the human body. (“We believe in hydration.”)
I’m used to people arguing that drinking soda isn’t harmful but this is just ridiculous. Coke does nothing more than flood your body with sugar and phosphoric acid. Any hydration you might get from a can of soda goes completely out the window when its diuretic effects kick in. And it doesn’t just make you pee. Thanks to that phosphoric acid, your phosphoric to calcium ratio may become out of whack. This could lead to bone loss.
Claim #4: There’s no scientific evidence connecting sugary beverages to obesity.
Wrong. You simply can’t argue about the effects of sugar on health. Consuming soda is clearly linked to an increased BMI, as shown in a study in the Journal of Pediatrics.
One particularly frightening study linked high fructose corn syrup (HFCS, the “sugar” we’re really talking about when we talk about most sodas) and obesity. Researchers at Princeton found that rats that were fed with less HFCS than is found in a can of soda gained significantly more weight than rats given table sugar, even when they were eating the same number of daily calories.
Another study showed that HFCS can actually make human cells fatter. And we’re not letting sugar off the hook. A study in The Lancet found that for each additional serving of a sugar-sweetened drink, BMI and frequency of obesity increased. Perhaps most shocking of all, added sugar may actually set teens up to suffer from heart attacks.
Claim #5: Sugar is not an addictive substance.
Wrong again. One study in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews concluded with a rat model that sugar dependence is real and that there’s no reason to believe that it isn’t true in humans also. Another study found that the effects of sugar addiction and withdrawal are actually similar to those seen in someone who abuses drugs. Other studies have shown that sugar works in the brain in the same way that drugs do.
Claim #6: People should be able to choose what’s right for them.
You know, I agree with this one. But industry representatives are rarely interested in the truth or in any kind of informed decision making. They’re interested in the bottom line, and that’s it. Casting Coke as a hydrating energy boost is simply self-serving misinformation. And that’s not helping anyone actually choose.
P.S. Keep reading to learn how cell therapy offered hope to a family living with Down syndrome.
“Coke says obesity grew as sugary drink consumption fell,” USA Today (usatoday.com)
“Coke executive answers questions about sugary drinks,” USA Today (usatoday.com)
“What Happens to Your Body If You Drink a Coke Right Now?,” Bliss Tree (blisstree.com)
“Correlates of beverage intake in adolescent girls: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study,” Pub Med (pubmed.gov)
“Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis,” The Lancet (thelancet.com)
“Evidence for sugaraddiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake,” Science Direct (sciencedirect.com)
“Implications of an animal model of sugar addiction, withdrawal and relapse for human health,” Ingenta Connect (ingentaconnect.com)