Sugar intake, especially in children, is a major US health problem. It is a major contributor to obesity and is creating an epidemic of diabetes in children, a disease once considered an adult problem. The soda industry, much like the tobacco industry in the 80’s, markets heavily to children knowing that if they can form the habits of soda drinking young, they will most likely have a life long costumer.
While soda is not chemically addictive, although some would argue that point, it certainly creates dependency. It does so by setting up a dangerous process within the body by which a person can become dependent on the sugary surge they get from a soda to feel normal. Also consider that many sodas contain caffeine. This caffeine also have a profound affect on a person and can actually cause withdrawal symptoms just like a drug. The withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and include headache, fatigue, sleepiness, inability to focus and concentrate. Others report experiencing flu- like symptoms, irritability, depression and anxiety.
The real problem of soda, however, is the sugar in soda. It forces the body to release a hormone called insulin in such large quantities that children quickly become insulin resistant and soon thereafter are diabetic. Soda creates a disease in children that used to take decades to develop in adults. These children are also overweight increasing their risk for just about every chronic disease ranging from heart disease to cancer. This places a huge financial burned on our health care system, driving cost up higher and higher. The way to off set this? Perhaps a soda tax is the answer.
The Joint Committee on Taxation calculated that a 3-cent tax on each 12-ounce sugared soda would raise $51.6 billion over a decade. This is quite a lot of money. A 12 pack of Coke costs about $2.99 so that would up the price to $3.35. It certainly isn’t enough to stop people from buying their sodas, but it would provide some income to help fight the health problems it is causing. Proponents of the tax say the money would be used to fund a health marketing campaign to teach people how to eat healthy. This is a good idea only if they teach it correctly and disregard the whole low fat paradigm. Studies show that sugared beverages are the No. 1 source of calories in the American diet, representing 7 percent of the average person’s caloric intake and up to 10 percent for children and teenagers. You will notice sugared beverages are fat free! Maybe the beverage industry should start advertising that. The problem in this country is the carbohydrate consumption is through the roof. Teaching people about eating fat free is a terrible idea because it will only push people towards things high in sugar like soda. They are fat free after all!
The marketing campaign needs to focus on low glycemic, low carbohydrate options. This is the only way to change the health picture in the US. We need to shift our paradigm and consider that fat is not the enemy. Carbohydrate is. Simple and refined carbohydrates cause disease and keeping them out of the diet is the single most important factor in long term health.
Coca-Cola has partnered with The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to sponsor a heart health awareness program. The main sponsor happens to be Diet Coke which on the surface looks to make sense. Most people know that regular Coke is loaded with sugar and contributes significantly to heart disease. The fact that the sponsor is Diet Coke is irrelevant. This is a marketing stunt by Coke designed to get more press for the entire Coca-Cola brand. When people leave an event sponsored by Coca-Cola they hope you leave, go to the store and remember the name Coca-Cola. There won’t be a Coca-Cola representative with you to make sure you buy the “heart healthy” Diet Coke. And Diet Coke is hardly healthy by the way. It is loaded with an artificial sweetener called aspartame which has serious health consequences by itself. Read below for information about aspartame.
Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.
I have highlighted several side effects which are clearly not heart healthy
that are associated with aspartame, the main sweetener in Diet Coke.
Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods on July 26, 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner in August 1974 as well as investigations of G.D. Searle’s research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold (December 5, 1974). In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.
Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain. (From http://www.mercola.com/articles/aspartame)
Coca-Cola is a major reason there is an obesity epidemic in this country. They have partnered with this health initiative to position themselves as health conscious and that hopefully the public will view soda, not just Diet Coke, as “not that bad.” This is, of course, designed to sell more soda which will continue to contribute to the poor health of America. Think about this; there are 39 grams of sugar in one 12 oz. Coke. That’s equal to 8 teaspoons of sugar! And this brand is promoting heart health? It makes absolutely no sense.
If Coca-Cola were truly concerned about health, they wouldn’t make their product. Now I am not so naive that I believe Coca-Cola will just stop making soda. My fundamental problem is that they align themselves with health initiatives in the hopes that people will view their products more favorably. Many people can see through the smoke screen, but there are people who don’t. These are the people that Coke is trying to reach in the hopes that it will create bigger sales. However, the bigger sales are at the expense of their health.