Americans are finally starting to realize the dangers of soda, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) saying they actively try to avoid soda in their diet, a new Gallup poll revealed.
This is a significant increase from 2002, when only 41 percent were trying to avoid soda, and a clear sign that, as TIME reported, “the soda craze is going flat.”
Soda Consumption Falls to Lowest Level in Decades
The soda industry is a $75-billion market, an industry that reached its greatest heights in the US during the 1980s and 1990s, when Coca-Cola began pushing larger drink sizes and “upsizing.” Fountain drink sizes grew more than 50 percent by 1990, and in 1994, the 20-ounce plastic bottle was introduced in the US.
As people drank more and more soda, rates of obesity and diabetes soared, and while the soda industry still denies to this day any connection, research suggests otherwise. The “supersized” mentality seems to have backfired for Coca-Cola and other beverage companies, because as the health risks become clear, sales have been on a steady downward spiral.
As Businessweek reported:
“For decades, soft-drink companies saw consumption rise. During the 1970s, the average person doubled the amount of soda they drank; by the 1980s it had overtaken tap water. In 1998, Americans were downing 56 gallons of the stuff every year—that’s 1.3 oil barrels’ worth of soda for every person in the country.
And then we weren’t as thirsty for soda anymore, and there were so many new drink options that we could easily swap it out for something else. Soft-drink sales stabilized for a few years…
In 2005 they started dropping, and they haven’t stopped. Americans are now drinking about 450 cans of soda a year, according to Beverage Digest, roughly the same amount they did in 1986.”
Coca-Cola Seeks to ‘Reintroduce’ Coke to Teen Market, and in ‘Guilt-Free’ Sizes
Part of Coca-Cola’s plan to bring soda back is, ironically, introducing smaller sizes, a strategy they believe might reposition Coke so “people stop feeling guilty when they drink it, or, ideally come to see a Coke as a treat.”
Smaller, 7.5-ounce minicans and 8-ounce glass bottles have been selling well. Even Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, says he limits himself to one 8-ounce glass bottle of regular Coke in the morning. Any more would be too many calories, he told Businessweek.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola decided to target the teen market directly this summer. Teens, while notorious for their soft-drink consumption, have been quickly bailing ship and opting for energy drinks instead.
So Coca-Cola printed the 250 most common teen names on Coke bottles, hoping to entice teens with the “personalized” drinks. It worked. Sales increased by 1 percent in North America in the last three months.
Beverage consultant Mike Weinstein, former president of A&W Brands, even noted that he goes right into high schools to find out whether teens can identify soda company slogans.
Yet, there seems to be a growing realization within the industry that, as American attitudes about diet change, and more people seek to reduce added sugar and sugary drinks in their diets, appealing to the “healthier” side of their image is needed.
And, here, too, Coca-Cola is quick to respond. They’ve invested heavily in small “healthy” beverage companies like Fuze tea, Zico coconut water, and organic Honest Tea. Coca-Cola also owns Odwalla and Simply Orange juices, Glaceau Vitaminwater, and Core Power sports drinks.
Coca-Cola Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent has no intention of letting Coca-Cola’s brands, and its namesake product Coke, fall by the wayside.
A $1-billion two-year marketing blitz’s sole goal is to drive its “sparkling” division back to its former glory. And in case you were wondering… its healthy-sounding “sparkling” division includes soda, which is completely delusional.
Your Brain on Soda
When you drink soda, numerous changes happen in your body, including in your brain. A new animal study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, found that sugary beverages may be particularly damaging to the brains of adolescents, one of the key age groups soda companies are trying to “court.”
Both adult and adolescent rats were fed sugary beverages for one month. They then were tested for cognitive function and memory.
While the adult rats did okay, the adolescent rats fed sugary drinks had both impaired memory and trouble learning. Next, the researchers plan to study whether soda leads to inflammation in the brain’s hippocampus, which is crucial for memory and learning.
Diet Coke Sales Plummet Amidst Aspartame Health Concerns
Diet Coke may not contain sugar, but that certainly doesn’t make it a better choice than regular soda. Here, too, Americans are catching on to the risks involved, especially in regard to the artificial sweetener aspartame. Businessweek, reporting on the decline in Coca-Cola’s sales, noted that while carbonated soda sales fell 2 percent in 2013, Diet Coke sales dropped 7 percent.
This, they said, was “almost entirely the result of the growing unpopularity of aspartame amid persistent rumors that it’s a health risk. Rumors? Far from it. Research continues to pour in revealing proven health dangers to aspartame.
Among them, a recent commentary that reviewed the adequacy of the cancer studies submitted by G.D. Searle in the 1970s to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for market approval.
Their review of the data found that the studies did not prove aspartame’s safety, while other recent research suggests aspartame has potential carcinogenic effects. The researchers noted:
“Taken together, the studies performed by G.D. Searle in the 1970s and other chronic bioassays do not provide adequate scientific support for APM safety.
In contrast, recent results of life-span carcinogenicity bioassays on rats and mice published in peer-reviewed journals, and a prospective epidemiological study, provide consistent evidence of APM’s carcinogenic potential.
On the basis of the evidence of the potential carcinogenic effects of APM herein reported, a re-evaluation of the current position of international regulatory agencies must be considered an urgent matter of public health.”
You may also be surprised to learn that research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened no- or low-calorie drinks and other “diet” foods actually tend to stimulate your appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.
What Happens When You Drink Soda?
Soda is on my list of the absolute worst foods and drinks you can consume. Once ingested, your pancreas rapidly begins to create insulin in response to the sugar. A 20-ounce bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In addition to contributing to insulin resistance, the rise in blood sugar is quite rapid. Here’s a play-by-play of what happens in your body upon drinking a can of soda:
- Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.
- Within 40 minutes, caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.
- Around 45 minutes, your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.
- After 60 minutes, you’ll start to have a blood sugar crash, and you may be tempted to reach for another sweet snack or beverage.
Some Advice for Coca-Cola? Get Ready for a Class-Action Suit
Some advice for Coke, plan your budget to include a class-action lawsuit similar to those filed against the tobacco industry. These products are now well linked to the obesity epidemic and chronic disease. Coca-Cola admits to targeting teens (and has previously targeted children through in-school advertising and product placement). Now, they are making attempts to rebrand Coke with a new, healthier image. Their new “Coke Life,” a low-calorie, low-sugar soda in a green can, no less, was designed to “quiet critics,” as it contains less sugar and no aspartame. Yet this new green-washed soda is just basically a cigarette with a filter.
Then there is Coca-Cola’s even more insidious side. Investigative journalist Michael Blanding revealed in his book, The Coke Machine — The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, that Coca-Cola bottling plants in India have dramatically lowered the water supply, drying up wells for local villagers while also dumping cadmium, chromium, and other carcinogens into the local environment. Similar claims have been made in Mexico. In many third-world countries, they already don’t have access to clean water, making soda their only choice for a non-contaminated beverage. As the demand for soda grows, the bottling plants increase, further taxing the water supplies left, in a vicious and dangerous cycle.
Let’s face it: We’re surrounded by threats, some of them unseen, that are putting us at risk of ill health. GMOs. Processed foods. EMFs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s at this time that most people seek guidance to help guard against these perils and secure their well-being. Oftentimes, it seems like an impossible feat.
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