Postcard from sugar

When I was growing up drinks like Coca-cola were common amongst my peers, but so was lemonade. There was also a bright orange drink called Tango which we favoured, but didn't get very often. I don't recall may other options, although this was the 1960s, and the huge variety we see on shelves today just didn't exist.

Now, sugar laden drinks are even more popular, but the health implcations are coming under scrutiny. The concern relates to the amount of sugar that is represented by, for example, a 1.25 litre bottle of coke - 37 teaspoonfuls. Set against that, the American Heart Association recommends 6 per day for women and 9 for men. So, that bottle ought to last a woman 6 days, and 4 days for a man. That's not going to happen, it tastes beyond terrible in far less time than even 4 days.

Coca-cola disagrees that their drink impacts health and quotes research defending their opinion. The trouble is, some of the research is funded by the company, and that raises questions. After all, it's highly unlikely that coca-cola would support or quote research that demonstrated their primary product was hazardous to health.

It has similarities with the tobacco industry funding research to show that smoking had little or no relationship with cancer. Not that anyone is claiming the same level of effect for coke, just that obesity is related to the amount of sugar consumed, and in turn it causes multiple, bad health outcomes.

In the end, can you trust an industry to police itself, particularly where health is balanced against profit?

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