With added sugars — and especially sugar-sweetened beverages — continually coming under scrutiny within the public health realm, it is fair to say the writing is on the wall for soft drink giants like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. That is not to say they won’t employ every tool in their arsenals to deny and spin mounting concerns.
First up, consider this “Understanding Caloric Sweeteners & Health” page from Coca-Cola’s Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness website.
In an attempt to deflect blame and make soda appear in any way wholesome, Coca-Cola makes the following claims:
1) “Studies show that under some circumstances, intake of sugars can boost performance on cognitive tasks.”
Our response: It’s quite interesting how Coca-Cola is always quick to point out that sugar is found all over the food supply (i.e.: “don’t blame soda for sugar intake!”), yet when it comes to the benefits of carbohydrates, they sure are quick to take full credit. We would much prefer people get their sugars from whole fruits. What a concept!
2) “The U.S. Institute of Medicine found that very high and very low intakes of added sugars were associated with lower micronutrient intakes. The report suggested an intake level of 25% or less of calories (energy) from added sugars in the total diet based on data showing decreased intake of some micronutrients in some population groups exceeding this level.”
Our response: Fear-mongering at its worst. This is, essentially, Coca-Cola misleadingly and irresponsibly warning visitors to the website that cutting back on added sugar could hinder their nutrition. Let’s look at what the Institute of Medicine actually says:
“Added sugars should compromise no more than 25 percent of total calories consumed. Added sugars provide insignificant amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other essential nutrients. Major sources include soft drinks, juice drinks, pastries, candies, and other sweets.”
Note that the Institute of Medicine does not mention a minimum daily recommended amount for added sugars.
3) “The causes of diabetes continue to be a mystery.”
Our response: Not really. While a multitude of factors can increase risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, nutrition research has clearly demonstrated that increased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to a higher risk of developing various chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes.
At the bottom of the page, visitors are encouraged to learn more on the issue by reading documents from the International Food Information Council — a food industry front group funded by various food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola.