27 May 2012

Nutrition and Coca Cola

For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Twenty years ago, boys consumed more than twice as much milk as soft drinks. Today, those figures are reversed. Girls consume twice as much soda as milk and build 92 percent of their bone mass by age 18. Americans drank an average of 576 twelve-ounce servings of soft drinks per year in 1997 – or 1.6 cans a day for every man, woman, and child.

By relying primarily on the instant energy of glucose, people forego vitamins, fiber, and other necessary nutrients. While it is possible to get those vital nutrients elsewhere, the more Coke you drink, the less room you find for healthy food in a typical 2,500-calorie daily “budget.” It is more likely that Coca-Cola fiends, particularly those who use it to wash down fatty junk foods, will ingest too many calories – one of the reasons that 12 percent of teenagers and 35 percent of adults in the United States are overweight. Worse, poor and black American children are three times more likely to become obese while suffering from malnutrition. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal ran a front-page series on the inner-city “deadly diet” of high-fat, salty, sugary food and drink sole in popular fast food outlets, which offer a refuge from the ghetto.

As for those who lump Coke with junk food and blame it for the poor nutrition of immigrants, inner-city blacks, and Third World people abandoning their traditional diet, the Coca-Cola executives reply that they advocate drinking the beverage only as part of a balanced diet. It isn’t their fault if people don’t eat well. “Actually,” CEO Doug Ivester observed in 1998, “our product is quite healthy. Fluid replenishment is a key to health. Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids.” Indeed, a fifth of American toddlers one or two drink soft drinks at an average of seven ounces a day.


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