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Sugary drinks are best avoided by most people

Sugary drinks are best avoided by most people, most of the time:

The Coco Cola Company has released a leaflet describing the composition of its own and other drinks with the stated purpose of enabling informed choice.

While the analyses provided may be accurate, they may nevertheless mislead. 100ml of Coca Cola may well contain 10.6g sugars but few consumers would drink less than a can which contains 38g sugar, nearly 8 teaspoons. While the leaflet indicates that unsweetened or artificially sweetened beverages may be preferable for those who are “watching their weight” it suggests “that those who have a healthy body weight can and do enjoy sugar-containing fizzy drinks and juices.”

Given that there is at present an escalating epidemic of obesity and its complications and that parents may often not appreciate that their children are overweight, this advice is inappropriate. This advice is not consistent with the advice given by most nutrition authorities and is not supported by research on obesity and soft drinks.

A World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Consultation, acknowledging that there are several causes of overweight and obesity, concluded that there was sufficient evidence linking consumption of sugary beverages to obesity in children to warrant a recommendation to restrict sugar sweetened drinks as well as an upper limit of intake of free sugars for everyone. Agencies for Nutrition Action has recently published an updated review of the literature (www.ana.org.nz) which confirms and extends the WHO Report.

Of concern is the apparent endorsement of the Coca Cola leaflet by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. Its letter of support and associated media coverage suggests that the leaflet “gives consumers accurate information to allow them to make an informed choice” and there is no such thing as a “bad” beverage. We do not support this view and strongly advise that while sugary drinks may not have any immediate untoward effect, they are best avoided by people, most of the time.


Agencies for Nutrition Action: (Nicola Chilcott, Executive Officer)

Diabetes New Zealand, Inc Contact: (Murray Dear, President)

Edgar National Centre for Diabetes Research
University of Otago, Dunedin (Professor Jim Mann, Director ENCDR)

New Zealand Dietetic Association (Carole Gibb, Executive Officer)

Obesity Action Coalition (Celia Murphy, Executive Director)

Heart Foundation of New Zealand (Professor Norman Sharpe. Medical Director)

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