Is soda really all that bad?
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Inspired by the CrossFit Journal: Death and Diabetes in the City of Angels.
You've read the articles. You've seen the news stories. You know they have some sugar in them. But are they really all that bad? Read on to learn how it's more than just a drink.
Do you really think the soda industry cares about your health?
What do you see here?
Coca-Cola's marketing strategists are not going to put unhealthy-looking people in their ads. Do you truly think these two individuals drink a soda all that often?
Even in this 1989 Coca-Cola ad, the actors are fit, healthy, and performing some pretty epic moves on the dance floor. Do you think during rehearsals for this ad that the actors were popping open a Coke to rehydrate? Maybe - they likely had some on set. But to claim that Coke and other soda products were these individuals' beverage of choice in their regular active lifestyle is exactly what Big Soda companies want you to think.
I'll admit it. I have never been a big soda drinker. I grew up in a family where easy access to clean water was never an issue, and the sugary drinks were too much for my relatively clean food palate.
But even I found myself wanting a Coke after seeing these ads. And I don't even like the stuff.
Coca-Cola and other major product companies have began using something called neuromarketing. The ethics of this practice are still largely up for debate, and that debate will likely continue for some time. But in the meantime, companies are paying research facilities to conduct studies on consumers by measuring brain activity when shown an advertisement.
"When faced with a particular stimulus such as an ad, areas of a subject’s brain receive more oxygenated blood flow than they do at rest time." (1) Researchers are presenting consumers in an fMRI machine with ads and measuring their brain response - what part of the brain responds, for how long, etc. "fMRI has the major advantage of being able to image deep brain structures, especially those involved in emotional responses." (1) Even if you don't consciously recognize it, when you see an advertisement on television, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, you name it, your brain responds. It is this response that has a long term effect on you and your choices as a consumer.
You may not immediately feel drawn to go to the gas station and get a soda, but maybe in a week on an especially hot day after a long afternoon in the sun, your brain will reconnect with that image of the ice cold drink on TV, and that emotional response of refreshing relief may compel you to purchase a soda. And that's the company goal: now instead of simple brand recognition, they have successfully created in you an emotional connection to their product.
By paying companies for neuromarketing studies and data, companies can now produce advertisements that directly influence your subconscious.
Wait, how much?
"One 20 ounce soda has 16 teaspoons of sugar. If you drink 1 soda a day for just 1 week, it is [over 2 cups of sugar]. You drink 2 sodas a day for 2 weeks, and the studies show that the amount of fat in your liver more than doubles. And it's that liver fat that leads directly to [Type II] diabetes." (2)
Take a moment to consider those statistics. Too often we hear numbers and keep reading with little consideration. How many sodas do you drink in a day? Even if you've cut back recently, it still only takes 1 to 2 sodas per day, in a VERY short amount of time, to deposit enough fat in your liver to directly cause Type II diabetes. That is astounding.
In response to recent criticism and research being done on the effects of their products, Big Soda companies have gone on the counter attack by grabbing hold of the "calories in, calories out" catchphrase to encourage balancing what you consume (read: their sodas) and what you do. You may have even seen the stickers on the soda mini-fridges in the check out line: "Balance what you eat, drink, and do."
Do not be fooled by this trick.
Let me repeat that...
DO NOT be fooled.
To combat the recent initiative of health professionals and organizations such as CrossFit lobbying for the labeling of soda products as toxic, Big Soda has launched an initiative of their own. Through marketing strategies, they have placed themselves on the side of the consumer, claiming they are in the trenches with you and I in the fight against obesity. Rather than letting real data show that you cannot out-exercise a bad diet, Big Soda has launched this "balance" campaign to keep you spending money on their sugary drinks. They claim the notion of maintaining an active lifestyle will solve the problem before changing your diet will. "The soda industry’s contention that activity can protect us from obesity and diabetes is not borne out by research, which has shown again and again that diet is a far more important factor in obesity than exercise." (3)
Consuming sugary drinks regularly will lead you down the path of disease. You do not need to be overweight to have Type II diabetes. Do not be fooled by Coca-Cola's clever advertising campaigns, which allow you to associate their product with anything even remotely close to a life of health.
How to Stop
So now what? There are three big steps to lasting change.
An Internal desire for change
It begins with your decision. Are you going to make a lifestyle change in order to be around to see your kids get married, or to be a grand parent, or just to live a life free of pain and suffering due to avoidable medical conditions?
I hope by now the gravity of this situation has been realized, and you clearly see just how big of a monopoly and conspiracy Big Soda has become. From paying for research to know how to influence the deepest parts of your brain, to launching "health" campaigns directly designed to keep you buying the very products causing a dramatic rise in disease and obesity around the world, I hope you realize soda companies do not care about your health.
We humans are social animals. If you are addicted to sodas, and don't have iron clad will power, you will need help in this journey.
Start with small steps. Do you drink 5 sodas a day? Cut back to 4 for a week. After that week, cut back to 3. And so on.
Have you already made it through this progression and are just stuck on that last 1 soda per day? Or even just 1 soda on the weekends. Look at other areas of your diet and see where else you are taking in sugar. Likely this is your cause for hangup. That one soda is that extra sugar kick your body won't quite let go of.
Sugar is known to be highly addictive. Though conflicting studies have been published to point to just how addictive sugar is, we all have experienced the instant satisfaction that comes with a sugary drink or snack. If you can successfully cut out sugar from the rest of your nutritional intake, dropping soda will be a no-brainer. And likely, your body won't even want it.
If you are ready to enter into a group of like-minded individuals, concerned with their health and future, and willing to work a little every day towards lasting change, schedule a time to come meet us. You won't regret taking a step that will change your life.
Click here to talk to a coach today.
1. Morin, C. Soc (2011) 48: 131. Neuromarketing: The New Science of Consumer Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-010-9408-1
2. Vera, Jay. "Death and Diabetes in the City of Angels." journal.crossfit.com. Harold Goldstein, DRPH. https://journal.crossfit.com/article/death-and-diabetes-in-the-city-of-angels. April 6, 2018.
3. Rosenberg, Tina (2015, Nov 3) "How one of the most obese countries on earth took on the soda giants". Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/nov/03/obese-soda-sugar-tax-mexico