Entries in Coca Cola (2)


Mom’s Death Linked to Coke in Coroner’s Report

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(INVERCARGILL, New Zealand) -- A New Zealand coroner has linked the death of a 31-year-old woman to her Coca-Cola addiction.

Natasha Harris died Feb. 25, 2010 from a cardiac arrhythmia, according to a 19-page coroner’s report obtained by ABC News. While the mother of eight from Invercargill, New Zealand was known to smoke heavily and skip multiple meals, coroner David Crerar concluded that the sugar and caffeine she got by drinking more than 2.6 gallons of Coca-Cola Classic per day was “a substantial factor” in her death.

“When all of the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died,” Crerar wrote in his report.

Harris’s partner, Christopher Hodgkinson, said Harris would get headaches and act moody without her Coke fix, according to the coroner’s report. Close friends said she would “get the shakes” and other withdrawal symptoms. Her heart would race, her liver was swollen, and her rotting teeth had to be removed. But, said the report, “the family did not consider that Coke was harmful due to the fact of it having no warning signs.”

“Natasha Harris knew, or ought to have known and recognized, the health hazard of her chosen diet and lifestyle,” Crerar wrote, adding that the fact that Harris had her teeth extracted several years before her death “should have been treated by her, and by her family, as a warning.”

Dr. Christopher Holstege, chief of medical toxicology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said anything can be toxic in large enough quantities.

“In toxicology, everything comes down to dose. And it sounds as though she was certainly taking an excessive dose,” he said, adding that drinking two gallons of soda per day with limited amounts of food can cause a dangerous imbalance in electrolytes. “You’re also not getting essential nutrients when you’re only drinking Coke. You’re basically getting sugar, and you’re going to be deficient in vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.”

Harris’s reported Coke habit would have delivered more than 2.2 pounds of sugar daily, according to the coroner’s report. She would have also ingested nearly a gram of caffeine, according to Coca-Cola’s website.

“To me, it sounds like she was not a healthy woman in any way, shape or form,” said Holstege.

A spokesman for Coca-Cola expressed sympathy for Harris’s family and disappointment that the coroner chose “to focus on the combination of Ms. Harris’ excessive consumption of Coca-Cola, together with other health and lifestyle factors, as the probable cause of her death.”

“Excessive consumption of one food or beverage — even water — to the exclusion of all others will not provide the essential nutrients an adult needs and is not recommended under New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guidelines,” he said. “The safety of our products is paramount, and our promise is to deliver safe, quality beverages.  All of our products have a place in an active, healthy lifestyle that includes a sensible, balanced diet and regular physical activity.”

While Crerar noted that the ingredients of Coke are “entirely legal” and “enjoyed by millions,” he said the risks of high doses were not adequately communicated to consumers.

“The hazards to the health of the consumers of excessive quantities of sugar and caffeine contained in carbonated beverages could be more clearly emphasized,” he wrote.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Coca-Cola Sugar Hiccup: Soda Giant on the Defense

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Coca-Cola has been a staple in American lives for more than 100 years and its iconic advertisements have shaped the soda industry from its 1930s depictions of jolly ol' St. Nick to its recent polar bear commercials.

One from 1961 even advertised Coke as a diet beverage -- "There's no waistline worry with Coke, you know," the pitchwoman said.

Most studies and experts agree that claim is not true -- but now, a new ad from Coke claims its low-sugar and sugar-free beverages can to be part of the obesity solution. The two-minute commercial was set to air on national cable news stations starting Monday night.

It may be the company's reaction to a full-fledged assault on sugary sodas that has included school bans, proposed taxes and an often-mocked New York City effort to eliminate the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces.

Coca-Cola said in a news release that the goal was to "highlight some of the specifics behind the company's ongoing commitment to deliver more beverage choices, including low- and no-calorie options, and to clearly communicate the calorie content of all its products."

The commercial, called "Coming Together," included facts about the company's initiatives, noting, "Of over 650 beverages, we now offer 180 ... low- and no-calorie choices."

The average American drinks 45 gallons of sugary soft drinks a year, equivalent to one-and-a-half barrels of soda pop. In fact, sugary sodas are the single largest source of calories in the American diet. Even the smallest can, the eight-ounce size, has the equivalent of approximately six sugar cubes. The 20-ounce size has around 14 sugar cubes and the 7-Eleven "Super Big Gulp" more than 30.

Critics argue they are not ordinary calories, either, but are empty of nutrition and don't tell the body it is full.

"With beverages, we'll drink the calories and then consume more foods on top of those calories," Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), told ABC News. "When the body eats a steak or asparagus, it senses that it consumed calories and then will reduce its caloric intake later in the day. It doesn't happen with soft drinks."

CSPI published a video that went viral just this past fall called "The Real Bears," which graphically depicted the health effects of over-consumption of sugary beverages.

Coca-Cola, the world's largest beverage company, also promotes exercise programs to work off what you drink. A second new spot debuting Wednesday during American Idol, called "Be OK," according to a news release, will make "it perfectly clear right up front that a can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories. This spot also encourages people to have some fun burning those calories off."

Coca-Cola declined comment to ABC News on the commercials but referred reporters to Russell Pate, a professor with Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. He told ABC News that the changes made by the food and beverage industry should be "supported, and more improvement is to be encouraged."

He added that a major origin of the obesity problem is "declining physical activity over recent decades."

"I think we have millions of Americans trying to eat down to their level of inactivity, and it's not working well," Pate said. "I believe strongly we will have to increase the physical activity level of our population if we want to overcome the obesity epidemic that we are currently challenged by."

Coke is not the only soda company getting heat. Pepsi hired Beyonce for undisclosed millions to promote its product at the Super Bowl and in new TV ads.

Mark Bittman, food writer for The New York Times, said the superstar is making a "bad decision" to work with the beverage company.

"She has associated herself with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign -- a campaign to eat better [and] move more ... and now [she is] pushing Pepsi, really quite the opposite of that," he said. "She might consider giving some or all of this money to charity."

Both Beyonce's public relations team and PepsiCo, the maker of Pepsi, declined to comment to ABC News.

A spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which represents the non-alcoholic beverage industry, told ABC News that it has partnered with Michelle Obama on her "Let's Move" campaign, as well as Bill Clinton to encourage a "meaningful impact on the complex issue of obesity."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio