A Must-know Story about Soft Drinks
People should have accurate information about soft drinks. Myths and inaccuracies about carbonated drinks have resulted in misconceptions about some of our products. Also, incomplete and inaccurate information may also mislead our employees, and their friends and relatives. So it’s important that we rely on facts to clarify those misunderstandings.
People who keep themselves informed about health and fitness know that a sensible lifestyle requires adequate physical exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep and a positive mindset.
Some nutrients are indispensable for good health, and carbonated drinks can often provide these nutrients. Specifically, soft drinks can be a source of water and energy, both essential for the proper functioning of the human body.
From a nutritional point of view, soft drinks constitute an important element in a nutritious and balanced diet. Both carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks can be a source of hydration. The sugar contained in these drinks is also an important nutrient as it aids in the metabolism of energy. Furthermore, some soft drinks, such as juice and sports drinks, contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Therefore, not only are soft drinks cool and refreshing, they are also good dietary supplements.
Soft Drinks and Dental Health
A lot of people are concerned about the corrosive effect on teeth of the acids found in carbonated drinks, but in fact, this is misplaced, as in normal circumstances teeth are hardy and resilient. On the surface of teeth, there is a layer of solid enamel which is highly resistant to acid or alkaline corrosion, and in any case, the normal metabolic processes of the body can repair certain types of reversible damage to the teeth. Also, the exposure of teeth to drinks is quite short-lived, which doesn’t adhere heavily to the surface of the teeth anyway. Saliva is a very good protector which can effectively neutralize acidic substances and help prevent tooth corrosion. What is more important for good dental health is to adopt a sound dental care routine.
Soft Drinks and Bone Health
Some people believe that the phosphoric acid contained in soft drinks could affect bone health, but this is a major over-reaction because soft drinks only contain a tiny amount of phosphoric acid. In the diet of Chinese people, phosphorus in soft drinks accounts for only 2% of the total contained in all foodstuffs. In fact, soft drinks have much the same phosphorus content as found in orange juice, although this can vary somewhat from region to region. Most dietary phosphorus, about 98%, comes from high-protein foods, such as meat, cheese, nuts and grains. At the 2000 Consensus Development Conference on osteoporosis held at the US National Institute of Health, it was reiterated that the phosphorus and caffeine contained in food will not give rise to osteoporosis in people who have a balanced diet.
We hope that you now have a better understanding of the relationship between soft drinks and health. You should feel free to enjoy soft drinks for a cool and refreshing experience on those hot summer days.
Caffeine in Soft Drinks is not Harmful to Health
Whether you sip on a cup of aromatic and flavorsome coffee during a break in your hectic schedule, or drink a bottle of iced cola with your lunch, or relax with a cup of tea after supper, you will be taking in caffeine. Caffeine is a natural substance that is found in more than 60 plants and it can also be artificially produced. Either way – naturally or artificially produced - it is an ideal inclusion in many drinks and food items.
Caffeine is quite a common taste-enhancing additive in drinks, including in some soft drinks, as it is particularly palatable and has a unique aroma. It is used so widely that many studies have been undertaken and some have cast mistaken impressions and beliefs. Some claim that caffeine is bad for health, and that drinks that contain caffeine, such as cola, are therefore bad for health.
After studying and reviewing many articles on caffeine, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it found no evidence to indicate that the use of caffeine in carbonated beverages would render these products injurious to health. The American Medical Association has also undertaken research into the properties of caffeine, arriving at a similar conclusion. According to its report, “Moderate tea- or coffee-drinkers probably need have no concern for their health relative to their caffeine consumption provided other lifestyle habits (diet, alcohol consumption) are moderate as well.”
The following table of comparison, compiled by the US FDA and the National Soft Drink Association, illustrates that soft drinks contain much less caffeine than is found in coffee, tea and chocolate.
So it can be easily seen that the content of caffeine in soft drinks is only one-sixth of that in coffee, half of that in tea and less than in dark chocolate. China has a long history and rich culture of tea drinking, dating back several thousand years. It is widely accepted in China that tea is a healthy beverage, and both Western and Eastern medical opinions seem to support this position. So if the caffeine contained in tea is not a health risk, then clearly the much smaller content of caffeine in soft drinks is not a problem.
The most commonly-voiced concern about caffeine is its allegedly addictive properties. Whilst it is the case that caffeine has a slight stimulating effect on the central nervous system, various studies have demonstrated that when a person is very tired, some caffeine will help improve responsiveness, although not very significantly but enough to take the edge off weariness. A scientific comparison of the physiological effects on the body of caffeine vis a vis the characteristics of drug dependence clearly demonstrates entirely different mechanisms at work. Some people who have a high caffeine content in their dietary regime will suffer from headaches, irritability, a feeling of weakness and/or mental agitation if they suddenly reduce or cease caffeine intake, but these side-effects are minimal and temporary, lasting at most 2-3 days. As shown in the table above, the content of caffeine in soft drinks is very low, with its primary purpose being a flavor additive, so these side-effects will not be experienced if a person were to reduce or cease drinking soft drinks.
Another concern revolves around the impact of caffeine on pregnant women and on children. No direct relation between birth defects and intake of caffeine has ever been demonstrated; i.e. birth defects in the children of people who are habitual coffee-drinkers are no more common than in the children of those who do not drink coffee habitually. According to the FDA, caffeine has no deleterious outcomes for newborns, but it is advised that pregnant women limit their intake of caffeine for reasons of normal caution. In terms of the reaction of children to caffeine, in fact it is not as significant as for adults. Typically, caffeine is discharge from the bodies of children twice as fast as is the case for adults. Moderate consumption of drinks that contain caffeine can actually result in a better concentration span, and will not cause anxiety or hyperactivity. So soft drinks that contain caffeine have no negative impact on the health, growth, concentration, learning or emotions of children.
Soda Does Not Corrode Teeth
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of beverages, has always afforded the highest priority to product quality and the health of consumers. If people are concerned that the acidity in soda will corrode their teeth, their fears are unwarranted.
If a tooth were to be immersed in any acid liquid, including juice drinks, it would gradually decalcify with the passage of time. But in normal circumstances teeth are hardy and resilient. On the surface of teeth, there is a layer of solid enamel which is highly resistant to acid or alkaline corrosion, and in any case, the normal metabolic processes of the body can repair certain types of reversible damage to the teeth. Also, the exposure of teeth to drinks is quite short-lived, which doesn’t adhere heavily to the surface of the teeth anyway. Saliva is a very good protector which can effectively neutralize acidic substances and help prevent tooth corrosion. What is more important for good dental health is to adopt a sound dental care routine.
Any carbohydrate, including sugar and starch, will corrode teeth to varying degrees. Solid foods stick to the surface of the teeth more readily than do drinks, and they become acidic through bacterial decomposition in the mouth - another imperative to adopt a sound dental care routine.
Cola Does Not Cause Infertility! The Following is a True and Informative Story
All industries are plagued with inaccuracies and myths from time to time, which tend to come and go in waves. One such example is the unfounded claim that drinking cola may lead to lower male reproductive capacity.
This is how the myth arose: in the mid-1980’s, three students at the Harvard Medical School undertook a simple experiment. They mixed sperm with cola in a test tube, and measured the time it took for the sperm to die. After the result was announced, some people drew the highly unscientific and unreliable conclusion that since the sperm died when put into soda, it will die when men drink soda. This erroneous claim was carried by the media, and it eventually evolved into a baseless ’fact’.
The myth perpetuated due to a failure to consider a basic scientific fact - sperm, like any human cell or internal organ, will die if exposed outside the human body without any protective measures. So it will die in water, air or any other environment outside the human body and of course and quite naturally, it will die if immersed in juice or soda. Furthermore, what we drink first reaches the stomach, where it is digested, and then the nutrients are transported throughout the body through the bloodstream. Sperm would not, of course, be directly exposed to drinks or any other substances introduced through the digestive system. The claim that drinking cola will kill sperm is very clearly inaccurate and without any scientific basis.
Soft drinks are quite refreshing, and provide us with good taste and satisfaction. Cola is a soft drink, and the refreshing taste can encourage people to drink more water. Therefore, it is not harmful to health and people should feel free to drink it.
Our Position on Obesity
Obesity is a serious and complex global health problem that requires the collective efforts of individuals, educators, representative groups, communities, businesses and governments to find solutions. And that includes The Coca-Cola Company. By partnering with government, educators, health institutions, and other sectors of society, we are contributing to the development of workable solutions to address the obesity phenomenon.
People consume a wide range foods and beverages, so no one single food or beverage alone is responsible for people being overweight or obese. But all calories count, whatever the source, including those from beverages.
There is widespread consensus that weight gain is primarily the result of an imbalance of energy – specifically, too many calories consumed versus those expended. It is our view that all foods and beverages play a role in a healthy lifestyle, which should combine a sensible and balanced diet with regular physical activity.
Scientific Support for Our Position on Obesity
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB), Excess Weight, and Obesity
Although there are epidemiologic studies that have reported an association between sugars and/or carbonated beverage consumption and weight gain, other studies have not found such an association. (Blum et al., 2005; Drapeau et al., 2004; French et al., 1994; Kvaavik et al., 2005; Laurson et al., 2008; Newby et al., 2004; Schulz et al., 2002; Sun and Empie, 2007, Vanselow et al., 2009)
A review and meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated 12 studies assessing the role of consumption of SSBs in weight gain among children and adolescents and found that, based on current scientific evidence, there was a near-zero association between SSB consumption and body mass index (BMI). The authors noted that several other recent meta-analyses reported some minor impacts and described the results as weak or unequivocal. (Forshee et al., 2008)
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the association between beverage consumption and five year body weight change in over 2,000 adolescents. The authors concluded that there was, “no association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, juice consumption, and adolescent weight gain over a 5-year period.” (Vanselow et al., 2009)
A systematic review of 44 studies found that the suggestion that sugar-sweetened soft drinks are a disproportionate cause of excess body weight and/or that their avoidance would be effective in preventing weight gain are not well substantiated by scientific analysis. (Gibson, 2008)
Population survey data of over 38,000 individuals over a 13-year period were used to assess the relationship between obesity risk and SSB consumption. The authors concluded that “Multiple lifestyle factors and higher dietary fat intake were significantly associated with obesity risk. Populations who frequently consumed SSB, primarily high fructose corn syrup sweetened beverages, did not have a higher obesity rate or increased obesity risk than that of populations which consumed SSB infrequently.” (Sun and Empie, 2007)
In people with a consistent SSB consumption level, the average annual weight change is essentially identical in groups consuming high and low levels of SSBs, indicating that SSB consumption has little impact on long-term weight status. (Schulze et al., 2004; Palmer et al., 2008; Kvaavik et al., 2004)
Results of several large studies have confirmed that the impact of calories from SSBs is only part of the expected scenario, indicating that people consume calories from SSBs with part of these calories being actually expended. Such consumption comes from the reduced consumption of other foods. (Schulze et al, 2004 ; Palmer et al, 2008 ; Chen et al, 2009)
According to the American Heart Association’s 2009 Scientific Statement on added sugars, "Because overweight and obesity are complex metabolic conditions, it is unlikely that a single food or food group is primarily causal." (Johnson et al., 2009) In other words, although regular soft drinks do have calories, the cause of excess weight or obesity cannot be apportioned to soft drinks or any other single food or beverage alone.
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, “Eating sugar has nothing to do with developing type 1 diabetes. The biggest dietary risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is simply eating too much and being overweight – your body doesn’t care if the extra food comes from cookies or beef, it is gaining weight that is the culprit.” (http://www.diabetes.org)
US: Calories from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Americans now consume 250-650 more calories than in the 1970’s (Kant, Graubard, 2006 and USDA Economic Research Service 1970-2008). Calorie intake from sugar increased only 14% (USDA Economic Research Service 1970-2008), and calories from soft drinks rose about 5%. Over the same period, calorie intake from fats and oils went up 53%, and calories from corn increased 45%. Substantial evidence associates dietary fat with obesity. (Hill, et al, 2000; Bray et al, 2004; Gerstein et al, 2004; Matters et al, 2005)
Intake data (Popkin, 2009) and industry data in the US suggest that SSB consumption either remained the same or decreased while rates of excess weight and obesity over the same period have continued to increase or remain stable. (Flegal et al., 2010)
Based on an analysis of usual dietary intakes conducted by the US National Cancer Institute, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened water beverages (including vitamin drinks) combined comprise 5.5% of all calories consumed by Americans – which means that nearly 95% of calories comes from other sources. (Bosire et al., 2009)
High Fructose Corn Syrup
In 2009 a workshop on the health impact of high fructose corn syrup was organized by the International Life Sciences Institute and the US Department of Agriculture (Jones, 2009). The ensuing discussions supported the view that overall, there is little evidence to support the position that high fructose corn syrup and sugar/sucrose have differing effects on satiety, overall energy balance, metabolic hormones or biochemical metabolites such as triglycerides and uric acid – all suggesting no unique causal role for high fructose corn syrup in obesity.
Researchers at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute reviewed 20 studies that had used a range of methodologies to determine if high fructose corn syrup has contributed uniquely to the increase in BMI in the US The expert panel concluded that, “HFCS does not appear to contribute to overweight and obesity any differently than do other energy sources,” and “there are significant knowledge gaps and weaknesses in existing research, so further research is warranted.” (Forshee et al., 2007)
In 2008, the American Dietetic Association stated that “Once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two sweeteners (sugar and high fructose corn syrup) are indistinguishable. No persuasive evidence supports the claim that high fructose corn syrup is a unique contributor to obesity. However, like all nutritive sweeteners, it does contribute calories.” (Clark, Hot Topics of American Dietetic Association in 2008 )
In 2008, the Council on Science and Public Health of the American Medical Association concluded that “Because the composition of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose are so similar ............. it appears unlikely that high fructose corn syrup contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose ............. there is insufficient evidence to restrict use of high fructose corn syrup or other fructose-containing sweeteners in the food supply.” (American Medical Association. Report 3 of the Council on Science and Public Health). The American Dietetic Association drew a similar conclusion. (Fulgoni, 2008)
There is widespread consensus that weight gain is primarily the result of an imbalance of energy, specifically too many calories consumed versus those expended.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that “Overweight and obesity result from an energy imbalance. This involves eating (and drinking) too many calories and not getting enough physical activity ............. When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight for a lifetime, the bottom line is – calories count! Weight management is all about balance – balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses or ‘burns off.’ ............. To remain in balance and maintain your body weight, the calories consumed ............. from foods and beverages must be balanced by the calories used (in normal body functions, daily activities, and exercise).” (CDC, 2009)
Data published in Obesity Reviews from over 125,000 school-aged youth in 34 countries was used to compare estimates of the prevalence of excess weight and examine associations between excess weight and selected dietary and physical activity patterns. The authors ultimately concluded that, “Overweight status was not associated with the intake of fruits, vegetables, and soft drinks or time spent on the computer.” The adolescent obesity epidemic is a global phenomenon and researchers emphasized that, “Increasing physical activity participation and decreasing television viewing should be the focus of strategies aimed at preventing and treating overweight and obesity in youth.” (Janssen et al., 2005)
Calories count when it comes to losing and/or maintaining weight. According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it isn’t what you eat, but how much. Results from the two-year study, which assigned 811 overweight participants to one of four reduced-calorie diets, found that from a weight loss perspective it didn't matter what type of energy-restricted diet the participants followed, but how many calories they consumed. (Sacks et al., 2009)
The American Dietetic Association has issued a position statement on the importance of the total diet as part of a healthy eating regime: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that the total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of a healthful eating style. All foods can fit within this pattern, if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with regular physical activity. The American Dietetic Association strives to communicate healthful eating messages to the public that emphasize a balance of foods, rather than any one food or meal.” (Position of the American Dietetic Association: Total Diet Approach to Communicating Food and Nutrition Information. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 2007; 107:1224-1232)
In 2008, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the first Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines recognize the importance of energy balance: “Physical activity and caloric intake both must be considered when trying to control body weight. Because of this role in energy balance, physical activity is a critical factor in determining whether a person can maintain a healthy body weight, lose excess body weight, or maintain successful weight loss.” (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2008. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans stated that poor diet and physical inactivity, resulting in an energy imbalance (more calories consumed than expended), are the most critical factors contributing to the increase in excess weight and obesity in the US. (US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture, 2005)