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Study: Coca-Cola Shaped China's Efforts to Fight Obesity (npr.org)
51 points by sndean 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

> That's bad news for soda giants, who want to grow their market.

Hasn't Coca-Cola been extremely pro-active recently in tackling obesity since it became clear that sweet drinks were a major problem?

They've almost completely replaced their flagship brand and formula with the zero sugar variant. They're not even promoting it as an alternative any more - the 'Zero' on the cans has been getting smaller and smaller and the black branding has been shrinking as well, and they seem to be getting retailers to suggest it as the default as well.

I guess they think they're able to grow their market by being healthier and helping their customers to be healthier.

But, they haven't removed the classic variant. They (Coca-Cola) also have hundreds of brands that push for the sugar variant of those other sodas. That doesn't count the use of sucralose which has other issues, as does aspartame to a lesser degree.

If Coca-Cola tomorrow said ("our bad, we're sorry"), switched to a low/zero calorie sweetener blend (Stevia, Erythritol, Monk Fruit maybe a little aspartame) with approximate flavor and completely dropped sugar / HFCS then I'd believe they give a crap about tackling obesity.

As it stands, refined sugars are the single biggest problem with metabolic syndrome. Fructose is only metabolized by the liver into fats/triglycerides which are linked to damaging insulin receptors and elevating insulin resistance leading to higher insulin levels suppressing other hormones and leading to weight gain, followed by full on diabetes and related metabolic problems.

That doesn't mean you can't have some fruit in your diet... juice should never be more than half a cup a day (which was the old recommendation). And high-sugar tree fruits should be minimized in favor of berries. "Fruits and Vegetables" was grouped because a lot of what people consider veggies are botanically fruit. The sweet fruits should be kept to 2 servings a day tops.

Refined sugar shouldn't be consumed more than once every few weeks. It's horrible. All the negative effects on the body of alcohol without the negative reinforcement of a bad headache.

Have they tried tweaking with the formula to just use less sweetener in the first place?

I'm a dark chocolate guy - anything less than 70% isn't "chocolate". So I'm wondering if there's a market for Coke Bitter, now with 15% less sugar than regular Coke.

> If Coca-Cola tomorrow said ("our bad, we're sorry"), switched to a low/zero calorie sweetener blend (Stevia, Erythritol, Monk Fruit maybe a little aspartame) with approximate flavor and completely dropped sugar / HFCS then I'd believe they give a crap about tackling obesity.

They've already tried that with "Coca-Cola Life" [0] but people also need to buy this stuff for it to stick and many people are fickle about their "coke taste".

Case in point: I could never stand the taste of the "light" and "zero" variants, and because I don't drink this stuff to hydrate, but for the taste, I will always go for the version that tastes best to me because it's not something I drink that regularly.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola_Life

Coke Life still had like 70% of the sugar... Stevia doesn't work well on its own.

Also, they'd need to push the brand over. They didn't replace a product.

Supply chains hardly allow for people to take your advice. It's in everything.

It is... as is soy (allergic to legumes). More people should think about buying groceries and making their own food.

What do you suggest for drinks? I’ve tried months of water only, but it doesn’t taste good/bad at all. I do make my own food, but juices... argh, I’m just so lazy for that because I drink gallons of liquids a week (usually Coke Zero, I might add); I sometimes drink water as well, as to not make it just Zero, but seriously, it’s so boring to clean juice residue and making it takes time. I sometimes instead of plain water I add some drops of lemon, to make it taste different, but it’s still pretty much the same.

Drink fizzy water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Or La Croix.

Other options are iced tea with no sweetener. You can get different types of ice teas as well to slightly change the flavors up.

Tea! It's literally water with taste.

If you don't like hot beverages, make it iced. If you don't want to make some all the time, use a bigger kettle.

I bought a soda stream (the KitchenAid one) and use flavored stevia drops myself. Changing sweeteners takes getting used to though.

If you want to reduce ongoing costs, could piece together a feeder system for a larger co2 tank, or a refill tank with kits to refill their bottles or adapt other bottles for the soda stream.

I actually like water. But to spice things up somethings I enjoy mixing in, besides lemon:

slices of ginger

apple cider vinegar

cucumber slices

> I actually like water.

Does anyone really 'dislike' water? It doesn't taste of anything.

I didn't like drinking pure water until I was into my 20s, it's really difficult to appreciate it when you've grown up on all kinds of juices and sodas because then you are pretty much conditioned to expect some kind of taste from your hydration.

Also: Water isn't just water, there's quite some difference in taste depending on the water source. To this day there's certain "brands" I like drinking and others that I'm having a hard time drinking because I don't like the taste.

Different waters definitely have different flavours, the water at my parents' village in UK came from a local well and was almost sweet and very rounded. Whilst our local city water is flat, uninteresting and at times strongly "chemically" (chlorine-y).

At risk of being cliche, La Croix.

Refined sugar seriously isn't poison. Please, I mean that sincerely, stop obsessing over extreme views of diet and nutrition. It is likely not good for your mental health.

It is well established in mainstream nutrition the health effects of high calorie diets. It is also well established that refined sugar is not magically so much worse than any other way to eat a high calorie diet. Obviously, no one thinks drinking soda(or eating pizza etc) all day is good for you. And drinking soda is well agreed to be an easy way to significantly increase to caloric intake. The difference we tend to be able to measure is based upon behavioral nutrition. Not the actual direct consumption.

Seriously, I'm not sure why you, and others, feel compelled to yell to the hills about the secret poisons of sugar. I realize that it is difficult to see who is on the other side of these forums and it is possible that you may have a diagnosed mental health issue that causes you to obsess over something like this. If so I apologize. But if not, please think about why you are so adamant and upset about something like refined sugar.

Is anyone aware of any studies out there about people who obsess about nutrition information? Is it possible that people that get so wrapped up in this are suffering from similar issues in the brain that cause eating disorders?

I always find if fascinating that diet and nutrition discussions on HN seem to be a topic that brings out many very impassioned comments like the one I'm replying to. What is it about diet and nutrition specifically that causes it to inspire such extreme views and excitement?

First of all, your comment is extremely rude. Why do you discount people's opinion as mental health issues? Please consider revising your tone, not only on HN but elsewhere in life, if I may so bluntly say.

To cite one example why people are passionate about the topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Association

> The difference we tend to be able to measure is based upon behavioral nutrition. Not the actual direct consumption.

Can you provide a source?

We know that things like refined sugar cause dopamine spikes that cause people to crave them and consume more. We also know that sugary drinks like soda allow people to consume a large amount of calories quickly. Those are well established and studied behaviors.

What we also know, is that consuming refined sugar as opposed to any other source of calories is not very different outside of lack of nutrition etc. This is long established fact in both human and animal studies for many decades. Which means if there is a difference, it is likely not very pronounced.

To willfully ignore hard scientific fact to a point where a person needs to adamantly declare that sugar is akin to alcohol in the damage it does to the body, is a sign of something out of the norm in a person.

The second half of my comment was to see if there were studies about people who have this behavior as I find it interesting. This is one of the topics on HN which seem to get comments with extreme views and I was simply asking if people had research on this type of obsession.

What is it specifically about diet and nutrition that causes such a visceral, irrational, reaction out of a small subset of people? I am genuinely curious.



Note: refined sugars are about half fructose. The liver is the only organ that can metabolize it... With refined sugars your getting a significant multiplier of what you would in nature. This turns into triglycerides which is heavily correlated to insulin resistance and diabetes.

>It is well established in mainstream nutrition the health effects of high calorie diets.

Health effects.. like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes?

Bitter people dislike sugar.

The solution isn't to outright get rid of Coca Cola classic. It's to discourage it's consumption. I drink coca cola, but not often, I do enjoy it though and absolutely hate the "diet" variants.

Yup. I virtually never drink soda, but I DEFINITELY never drink the 'diet' garbage.

Have you ever been to a low-income neighborhood and watched an 8 year old child fill up a slurpee sized fountain drink container with regular Coke?

In my life, I have consumed alcohol and I have consumed sugar. I do not find them to be comparable, in most cases.

Where can I learn more about `refined sugar` causing

> All the negative effects on the body of alcohol

Are you high my friend on cola? Zero has aspartan and other artificial sweetness that triggers your insulin response, and this is the main issue with obesity, don't know about calories in cola per say but insulin makes you eat more and more... healthy and cola in the same sentence.. damm.

Aspartame doesn't seem to affect your insulin response.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2923074 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1946186

> healthy and cola in the same sentence.. damm

You're misquoting me - I said 'healthier'.

For people who are basically addicted to sweet soft drinks, I think Zero is a healthier alternative and I think it's great that Coca-Cola developed it and is rebranding to it. I think it'll help a lot of people.

A recent review and meta-analysis in the BMJ found no differences in health outcomes — including weight loss — between people who used artificial sweeteners and those who didn’t.


That doesn't mean that the zero calorie soda was a culprit.

They biggest determining factor in obesity isn't what food are available to the person, it's what foods the person chooses to eat.

"For people who are basically addicted to sweet soft drinks, I think Zero is a healthier alternative."

The question is how much healthier it is and how less healthy it is compared to not drinking soda.

That's not proven. Time to take responsibility for your own actions.

Good alternative to any soft drink --

Homemade ginger paste + sparkling water + honey + turmeric (optional) + lemon + a little bit of salt

Your taste buds will get a kick in the same way as any other soft drink. And of course it is healthy!

> And of course it is healthy!

Can you say that? I mean, yeah, it's healthier than refined sugar, but you're still drinking carbonated sugar water, regardless if it's a better sugar.

I meant to say -- healthier than soft drinks.

That is a soft drink. You mean "commercially available [carbonated] soft drinks". I doubt you can really make that claim without a thorough analysis; there's a pretty big range of soft drinks available.

Which I totally accept, it's just dangerous for us to build a narrative that "this is better, therefore it's good", which I know you're not trying to do, but I see it a lot.

Good idea. I may have to try that.

Unsweetened tea is a popular soft drink in Japan, anyway my point is there are a lot of the same brands in China except in China they are very sweet

"exercise is medicine" <- the only thing I really agree with Coca Cola about.

Fun thing they don't mention about Cola beverages - they can lead to chronic kidney disease, even the sugar free kind.


You can't outrun drinking soda all day.

Soda will also give you a 200+ blood glucose spike within minutes, which isn't really possible with other types of foods. That means it's only a matter of time until you get insulin resistance and then diabetes.

Soda is much more harmful than just some extra calories. There's a reason half of America is pre-diabetic or diabetic and it's not because people don't go to the gym enough or don't work in agriculture anymore.


Soda is food, food is healthy.

Over consumption of food is unhealthy.

I like soft drinks as sources of carbs. I’m active, so I really need them. It’s how you use them that’s an issue, rather than intrinsically being bad. (Outside of the cola issue. Thanks for the pointer.)

The cola issue broke my heart - I used to love coke zero. And you're absolutely right, in moderation literally anything is within the bounds of health. If you need sugar fast, that'll do the trick!

Beer is a way better source of carbs. An O'Douls is probably the best recovery drink around.

I was wondering why everyone is obsessed with gym and running those days, and this article provides a good answer.

They still have BPA resin lining their cans, which it turns out may be the actual cause of diabetes.


Isn't that kind of saying that the shot man died of lead poisoning? Like, I get that BPA's can possibly cause diabetes, but so can liquid sugar.

Also, this analysis seems to indicate there's no link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058392/

There's a number of papers out there that have been strongly influenced by the chemical industry. They actually hired some of the same lawyers that defended big tabacco, and have been caught editing Wikipedia articles

Most of us academics are in quite agreement over it's harm, and with the new genetic data it's even more convincing.

> Most of us academics are in quite agreement over it's harm

Could you provide context for your academic credentials? And as I pointed out before, what damage are we talking about when compared to the literal can of sugar water the BPA riddled can is holding?

its harm.

Yeah, but eating meat is harmful to the colon. Booze is harmful to the liver. We need a scale.

Also, do we not see these same results in the different consumption methods? Ie, cans vs bottles vs glass bottles vs tap?

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