It is a widely accepted fact that regular or excess consumption of soft drinks is bad for health. However, it looks like sipping a single cup of coke while watching movies in the theatre once in a while too is not really risk free. According to a new report, Coca-Cola, one of the most popular soft drinks across the globe, contains alarming levels of sugar.
During an interview with BBC, President of the Coca-Cola company's Europe Group, James Quincey revealed that a small coke drink available in theatre contains 23 sachets of sugar, while the big can contains 44 sachets of sugar.
"Coca-Cola does have some sugar in it. It is energy. Is it an absolute necessity? No, it's not. But millions of people enjoy it as part of their diet across the UK," Quiencey said, while answering Jeremy Paxman, on Newsnight.
The discussion also revealed that the regular size of a Coca-Cola can contains 35g of sugar, i.e. six teaspoons. That means that drinking a single can of coke will contribute to 135 calories. Quiencey also agreed that though Coca-Cola is high in calories, most of their consumers are still unaware of it.
There is no doubt that sugar enhances taste of food, but consumption of a diet high in sugar has always been known to cause many health problems including diabetes, impaired immune system, tooth decay and deadly diseases like cancer and heart diseases.
"Indian diet is very poor in good proteins and a variety of junk foods like colas, pizzas, fries, etc. (favoured by the new generation) are very high on carbs and sugars. The excess sugar has no other way but to get converted to fats and hence we have the highest rates of diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity in the world," Dr C B Kulkarni, Consultant cardiac surgeon, Specialist in Minimally invasive cardiac surgery, based in Pune, told IB Times India. "It also leads to complications of heat attacks, paralysis and host of kidney diseases. These colas also interfere with calcium absorption in children and hence cause bone problems."
Countless studies in the past have provided solid evidence to prove the link between soft drinks and diabetes. A study published in the journal Diabetologia in April, 2013 found that drinking a can of soft drink daily increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes by a fifth.
A report published in World Health Organization's (WHO) Bulletin in 2003 found that high consumption of added sugar contributed widely to dental caries and obesity.
"Coke seems to be a brew designed to create caries," Mumbai-based dentist surgeon Dr Bhavini K. Mehta, told IB Times in a mail. She pointed out that most of the soft drinks use phosphoric acid as an acidulant. "It is the same acid we dentists use for etching the enamel prior doing composite (white) filling. Phosphoric acid corrodes the surface of the enamel, causing cavities and changes the white/yellowish colour of the tooth to darker shades. It increases the PH in the mouth for at least an hour which causes erosion of the enamel."
Research has also directly linked regular consumption of soft drinks to kidney disease, bone fractures, eating disorders and food addictions. Studies have also warned against the trend of consuming too much carbonated drinks as it can increase the risk of cardiac related problems or high blood pressure later in life. Consumption of five cans of soda a week has been found making teens violent, leading them to carry a gun or a knife. Shockingly, a scientific study published in a French magazine in 2012 reported that top brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola contain about 10 milligrams of alcohol in every litre.
The excess sugar contents in foods have invited wide attention from different parts of the world. Many health advocates have already started campaigns to spread awareness among the common public. Professor Simon Capewell, an advocate of the campaign called, "Action on Sugar," while talking about the popularity of junk foods and sugary drinks described sugar as "the new tobacco." Highlighting the adverse health outcomes associated with consuming foods high in sugar, WHO, recently urged the food industry and common people to reduce sugar intake from the currently recommended ten teaspoons to five teaspoons a day.