We Get Letters v. 21: The Case against Coca-Cola

Langley writes in:

Kate,

Can you please help me build a case against drinking Coke? My husband LOVES the fizzy, sweet, goodness of it and drinks up to two cans a day.

It is worth mentioning before I go any further, that overall we lead a very healthy lifestyle, so Coke is really his only vice – but I’d really love him to cut back!

I have tried to tell him over and over again how bad it is for him, how it will rot his teeth, but he’s just not prepared to give it up or cut down.

Anything facts or figures you could provide me on the health hazards of drinking coke would be most appreciated.

Cheers,
Langley

Hi Langley, and thanks for the question and comments. However, after reading the following, I’m not sure your going to feel so gracious in return.

I could easily lay out a case against Coca-Cola and give a variety of health concerns, and I will a little further down below, but I want to address a larger issue.

First and foremost, I am a strong believer in personal responsibility. If a person has enough data to make an informed decision, then I try to respect that person’s choice. If a person likes McDonald’s, Kraft Mac & Cheese, or even Coca-Cola, more power to them.

The corporations on the other hand, these purveyors of misinformation and setters of inflated expectations, I have no problem taking a whack at now and then. If a company gives enough information for the consumer to make a decision, then they deserve our respect. If a company goes out of their way to mislead or hide information from the consumer, then I have a problem.

But back to your husband: The case against carbonated sodas is pretty straight forward. They’re empty calories and add little or nothing of nutrional value. Replacing two 12-ounce cans of sugar sweetened soda with water can cut over 350 calories per day. Over the course of a month, that equates to 10500 calories or about 3 lbs, if your to believe the numbers on this site. Multiply that by 12 and that’s 36 pounds saved in year. Not too shabby.

Then there’s the carbonic and phosphoric acids found in the sodas which don’t help a person’s teeth, and of course the High Fructose Corn Syrup, which nobody knows how it affects the majority of the population. Even if you go the cane sugar route, excessive sugar intake may cause endogenous opioid dependency (in english: a body becomes “addicted” to sugar), which possibly leads to higher insulin production, obesity and Type II diabetes.

Have I scared you yet? My apologies, because here’s some good news. Firstly, the acid versus the tooth enamel issue may not exist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentristy found that the pH associated with Coke and Diet Coke did not reach the critical pH which is expected for enamel demineralization and dissolution. Whether you believe their results or not is probably best determined on whether your belief that Coke’s $1,000,000 grant to the AAPD biased their results.

The obesity and diabetes doesn’t happen to everyone who drinks soda. In fact, it doesn’t even happen to a great majority of people who are overweight. It does happen, don’t get me wrong. Enough so, that it’s statisically siginificant in to those who work in the health industry. But if your husband visits his doctors and dentists on a regular basis, and they find him to be healthy, then he needn’t worry about the above. However, if they suggest he cut back, then the above links should help give him reasons to stop drinking.

There’s so many other reasons not to drink Coke that have nothing to do with health, inlcuding giving huge grants to medical associations to prove that Coke doesn’t rot teeth. I realize this is a generalization, but it’s often true: a corporation that gives money for research often does so to muddy the debate on their products.

Then there’s the recent episodes surrounding Coke and its bottlers tolerating the actions of Columbian paramilitaries against their workers in order to prevent them from setting up trade unions, resulting in some of the leaders of said attempted trade unions being murdered.

This has lead to several universities to banning Coke from their campus.

You see, there are many for your husband not to drink Coke. Health is only one of them.

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