The next time you go to the store, buy twelve one-pound bags of processed sugar, take them home to your family of four (or three one pound bags for yourself) and eat bowl after sugar filled bowl for seven days, until all twelve one-pound bags are gone. That’s the amount of sugar the average American family consumes in one week.

No wonder little five-year-old Johnny is obese and pre-diabetic. What happened?

THE SEEDS OF SODA ADDICTION WERE PLANTED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS

At the beginning of our involvement in World War II, Robert Woodruff, CEO of Coca Cola, issued a proclamation: “See that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca Cola for 5 cents wherever he is and whatever the cost to the company.” In support of this patriotic effort, Coke became the beverage of choice by President Dwight Eisenhower, and the official drink of White House banquets. Just as Big Tobacco made a push for a soldier’s lungs during World War I, Big Soda made a play for their taste buds in World War II.

WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE

In 1955, Eisenhower had a heart attack. And, when a President goes down, there is no shortage of expert care and pundit opinion. The Yank medical community said it was fat that felled our fearless leader. The Brits said it was sugar. Over the next ten years, the arguments went back and forth, until, American exceptionalism won: Fat was the culprit. Sugar got a hall pass. And no one paid too much attention to the fact that Eisenhower loved his Coke, as much as he loved his cigarettes.

HOW FAT FREE MADE US ALL SUGAR HOSTAGES

Purging fat from foods was a splendid marketing opportunity. The increasingly sophisticated food industry could expand their product lines if they sang the heart-healthy praises of their new non-and-low-fat foods.

Cheese would bounce like cotton puffs. Cupcakes would dance. And food companies could command twice as much shelf space in the store and in your mind.

But foods without fat didn’t taste good, so the food scientists added more sugar. They had always played with sugar as a flavor enhancer, but the practice went up when the fat levels went down, and across a greater range of products.

“Achieving the bliss point” was all the rage in the food laboratories. The Bliss Point is the point where you can add sugar before you get a negative reaction.

80% OF THE FOODS WE EAT HAVE SOME DEGREE OF SUGAR IN THEM

When you wash those foods down with a soda, you’re going for the trifecta of insulin resistance, and you could be on the path to type 2 diabetes. Take all the sugar laden products out of the supermarket, and the shelves in the middle of the store will be empty.

SODA IS LIQUID CANDY

A 12 oz. serving of Coke has 39 grams of sugar. Pepsi? 40 grams. (No wonder it won those taste tests!) That’s 4 plus teaspoons of sugar in a single serving.

All those teaspoons of sugar are too icky sweet for more than a sip, so Big Soda adds citris and other additives to mask the sweetness. And you drink more. You keep mainlining fructose and glucose to the liver, bypassing ability of the metabolism to digest and “burn” those empty calories.

What happens to fructose in the liver is a veritable Eli Roth movie: Glucose gets whisked out to do the beneficial stuff while Fructose creates insulin resistance, plumps into fat particles, shoots out into the bloodstream, and sits either in your belly or near your heart. But, not before it kicks the crap out of your liver.

Suddenly, you’re hopelessly fat and restricted to a life in a wheelchair, shooting insulin every couple of hours. And all along, you thought you were doing yourself a favor by eating fat free cupcakes.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

The parade of deleterious effects soda has on your body in addition to obesity and type 2 diabetes include:

  • Asthma
  • Kidney issues
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reproductive issues
  • Tooth decay
  • Potentially Cancer and Alzheimer’s

Worst of all, the brain and body see soda the same way they see cocaine. In fact, lab rats prefer a hit of sugar to a hit of cocaine. I guess that’s what they meant by, “The pause that refreshes.”

WHO’S WORSE? BIG TOBACCO OR BIG SODA?

I’ve worked on Pepsi and Anti-Tobacco. I shot Michael J Fox guzzling an entire can of Pepsi in one commercial, and stuck a cigarette in a hole in a woman’s throat in another.

I relished demonizing the tobacco industry; gray skin, lying cusses that they are. They used to trot out doctors testifying that smoking was harmless, and they created research that denied cigarettes presence at the cancer crime scene. Sadly, it seems that the soda boys are doing the same thing.

“The word is out: drinking sugar in liquid form is not a good idea,” says Marion Nestle, author of Soda Politics. Taking on Big Soda. “The publicity given to Coca-Cola’s funding of researchers was a revelation to lots of people. They were shocked that a company as well known as Coca-Cola would do such a thing.”

I’D LIKE TO GIVE THE WORLD SOME TRUTH…

Big Soda, Big Beverage and Big Sugar have it all over Big Tobacco. Unlike cigarettes, you have to eat and drink. If a kid drinks one 12 oz. can of soda a day, it changes their taste expectations, and they won’t fancy anything that’s unsweetened.

Sugar is seductive. It’s a drug. It’s the tobacco of a new generation.

Big Soda has pulled the thick center from the Big Tobacco playbook. They promote themselves as “wellness companies,” pay researchers with high mortgages and bad haircuts to deny the link between obesity and consumption, and tell the world that reasonably consumed, these products do no harm.

Except that Big Soda can’t have you drinking just one 12 oz. bottle or can a day. They need you to drink at least three to satisfy shareholder value.

And so, Americans guzzle 60 gallons of soda a year, per person.

SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?

In an unsweetened nutshell:

  • Don’t drink soda
  • Don’t drink any 12 oz. drink with over 12 grams of sugar
  • Drink water instead
  • Consider juice as a way to flavor water
  • Watch the calories but really watch the grams of sugar

We can also educate and advocate. We went up against Big Tobacco and it worked. We can push back against Big Soda and Big Sugar and tell people what the alternatives are. We can educate parents to not let their babies grow up to be cola nuts. Soda and sugary drinks is a lousy antidote to temper tantrums.

That’s what we’re trying to do at Fraser Communications. Right now, we’re working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to warn parents and the public of the effects of soda, sports and juice drinks and how consuming them as children can lead to a lifetime of complications and pain.

We’ll get there, one sugary drink at a time.

Lastly, don’t believe bogus science and soda naysayers. Check out who funded the research. Follow the money. You’ll see. Soda is as bad for you as tobacco.