October 2, 2013

There’s a raging debate about the effect of soft drinks on obesity and the diseases that are stimulated by toxic nutritional choices.

This photo was taken today (2nd Oct 2013) at a local Brisbane supermarket. The display is opposite the check out area. The 24-can pack costs just $12.94. That’s around 54 cents a can. Each can delivers 10 teaspoons of sugar. Each pack – 240 teaspoons of sugar!

Food manufacturers and retailers use misleading arguments like:

  • “It’s all about energy balance.” (calories in versus calories out) Scientists are now questioning this simplistic argument. Energy balance might apply in physics but not in biology. Every human body responds differently to different foods – especially to the excess load of glucose and fructose in these cans.
  • “It’s all about moderation.” Studies already show that when someone has a soft drink before or with a meal, they do not eat any less. “Moderation” is not a helpful concept. Some people will ague that 2 cans a day is “moderation” and others that 2 cans a month is “moderation”.
  • “Soft drinks provide essential carbohydrate and hydration.” This is a bad deal on 2 counts. There’s debate about whether carbohydrates are essential or not. Ask any scientist, dietitian or doctor to cite one case of a person who has died from lack of carbohydrate.  The 10 teaspoons of sugar per can comes with no other nutrients. Tap water safely provides hydration and costs nothing.
  • “We sponsor sports. (That makes us good corporate citizens.) What would happen to those sports if we didn’t  sponsor them?” Children who consume ANY soft drink, manufactured juice or flavoured milk are more likely to be overweight. Overweight kids are not inclined to exercise for two reasons: 1. It is difficult if you’re fat and 2. they probably have undiagnosed carbohydrate dis-regualtion (caused by a high sugar diet) and this reduces the energy they have available for sport and exercise.
  • “We make low and zero kilojoule soft drinks available.”  These maintain the addiction to ‘sweet’ and many contain caffeine. Some studies suggest that zero-kilojule drinks actually stimulate appetite within 30 minutes. They also have zero nutrients = bad deal.

There is no evidence available that health might be improved drinking a soft drink. If you or your child already has a “tummy” then sugar-laden drinks are probably TOXIC. At any age, extra weight around the tummy is associated with insulin resistance (carbohydrate-sugar-disregulation). Insulin resistance precedes type II diabetes. Most overweight children will never achieve a healthy weight and many will suffer all their lives as a result.

Most of these soft drinks also deliver a caffeine dose. Most parents wouldn’t let anyone give their kids a cup of coffee, an alcoholic drink or a smoke, or let them be in a car without wearing a seat belt. It’s a pity they are not aware of the toxic health effect of consuming sugar and caffeine containing soft drinks. (Interested? Read more here.) Of course, sugar-laden drinks also contribute to tooth decay.

Law makers eventually realised that “personal responsibility” did not work when it came to alcohol, cigarettes and seat belts, so legislation now controls them. Personal responsibility also does not work with the sweet addictive toxin in soft drinks. Supermarkets understand that their responsibility is to shareholders and not to the community, to you or to your children’s health. And so it is completely legal to promote the the high-volume purchase of a substance that damages health.

Are you one of those who says “If they’re silly enough to buy soft drinks, that’s their problem”? Unfortunately it’s your problem too. As the community gets fatter and sicker (contributed massively by the consumption of calorie-laden drinks) our health care system becomes more clogged, more expensive and less available to us all. It will drive up everyone’s taxes.

The merchandising and pricing that you see in the photo above is designed to stimulate supermarket sales (profits) and your consumption. To protect yourself and those you love you’ve probably learnt to drive defensively.  Unfortunately, to protect them you also have to shop defensively.