23 packets of sugar in one small soda??

Here’s an entertaining video, in which Coca-Cola’s European president is hard pressed by a British journalist. Even though he’s media-trained he gets thrown way off track.

The Coca-Cola president is desperately trying to move away from the comparison with tobacco. You will always need to eat and drink, while you don’t have to smoke, he says. True. But as the beginning of the video makes clear, there’s also no need for a single gram of added sugar from Coca Cola either! It’s completely lacking in nutritional value and only contributes excess energy in the midst of an obesity epidemic.

In short: Each Coca Cola you drink makes you fatter.

In the introduction of the segment the impressive and eloquent Dr. Aseem Malholtra is interviewed. He attended the LCHF conference in South Africa in February.

What do you think about the Coca-Cola clip above? Is the journalist being unnecessarily harsh and hard on the president, or is he getting what he deserves? Is he trying to wriggle out of his responsibility for the obesity and disease that his company is spreading?


  1. Annie
    OoooH Andreas ! that's not just a British Journalist , that's Jeremy Paxman ! He eats British Politicians for breakfast !! He was being very restrained in this interview . I think he was working on the old principle of giving someone enough rope to hang himself ! This was embarassing to watch, I am sure the man from Coca Cola wants to keep his job and has to stick to the party line ...... the facts speak for themself .. how many packets of sugar ??????
  2. Mike
    "We're very focused on getting the information out there."

    Yes, and I've got a bridge to sell you …

    Sorry to mix metaphors but it was nice to see a corporate shark on the ropes.

  3. Charles
    Funny! But wait, there's sugar in soda?!
  4. Stacy
    While it is absolutely true that Coca-Cola spreads disease and obesity, let's not forget the context.

    The U.S. government created nutritional guidelines decades ago that told Americans what they should and should not eat. American institutions like public schools and hospitals were (and still are) required by law to provide meals based upon those guidelines. At the time those guidelines were produced Coke was a small company with only a minor market share. When our betters in government in conjunction with universities created those benchmarks Coke and every other food manufacturer did what manufacturers do - respond to demand.

    Yes, Coke is responsible for the product they sell. But, please, let also hold those in positions of authority accountable as well. If we don't, we're likely to repeat the same errors over and over again.

  5. Damocles
    I dont like fingerpointing at single foods/beverage labels.
    If someone substitutes the glass of cola with a glass of standard (filtered) orange-juice,
    they feel "morally" better, without much better nutritional value.

    (The better alternative is to eat the fruit as it comes packed naturally / or throwing it in a blender.)

    But thats just not how people buy convenience foods.
    There is so much processed junk in the supermarket, that ignoring one brand will just make people switch to other processed sludge.

    Best advice (outside of LCHF specific) is to eat natural foods.

    Reply: #6
  6. bill
    Unfiltered orange juice is just fine?
    "...throwing it in a blender" thereby turning it into
    processed sludge?
    Might want to brush up on this site's recommendations.
  7. Damocles
    Guess what passes your mouth after you chew the fruits...
    i also dont recommend to blend it into slime. But a short burst makes the fruit to a nice variation.

    Under processed juice I understand filtered and concentrated for transportation type juice.
    That then gets rehydrated from the concentrate.

    The amount is more important in the end.
    Would not recommending eating 5 oranges as a snack either.

  8. jimstir
    Damocles, 1litre of 100% pure squeezed orange juice has roughly 80g of sugar in it that is 19 tea spoonfuls of sugar ! Add in the acid content and fruit juices are a potential disaster for both your weight and teeth.
  9. Truth
    I'm sick and tired of this ridiculous blame game! Coke is NOT responsible for fat people! The people who drink it ARE! The tobacco companies do NOT put that cigarette in your mouth! YOU do!!! Why do we always blame every one else for our faults and problems than ourselves? there is NO other enemy but our own self! I love coke will drink it till the day I die. I'm sick and tired of these awful people not taking responsibility for their own actions! For they overeat, drink uncontrolably! Fix that! Not coke! Enough!
    Replies: #15, #16
  10. Chez
    The interviewer clearly doesn't have sensible questions to ask and is almost attacking the Coke rep!

    Listen, EVERYONE knows soda has sugar! Everyone knows it has more sugar than we should have per day! Everyone knows sugar is toxic and makes you fat and fat and fat! But so what? Coke made these drinks as a 'treat' but as time went by, people demanded more so they supersized it! Don't blame Coke for giving people what they want!

    Coke has made the diet and the zero available. It too is just as bad as the classic but still, some people want aspartame + water cocktail! They enjoy it and gulp down liters and liters of it coz they can't stand water!

    You can't MAKE a company change their product just because it has 44 packets of sugar in it! People have to make their own sensible choices and give up 44 packets of sugar because they love themselves and want to stay healthy!

    My preferred drink is a liter of San Pellegrino water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 5 drops of liquid stevia. I am sure someone will have an objection to that too! Drink 'plain water' some will say! Well, I don't want plain water! Just like some people won't drink anything other than classic Coke! My stupid diabetic (type 2) sister drinks 2 cans of classic coke one after the other! I have gone black and blue eduating her but she tells me to shut up! So, I did!

    No one can help people if they are not willing to help themselves! [this post sounds more like a rant than a comment! sorry!]

    Reply: #12
  11. Mike
    Evidently, we have some Coca-Cola stooges here ready to defend the indefensible.

    You may also be interested in this news report, Andreas:

    "Coca-Cola works with dietitians who suggest cola as snack":


  12. Jim
    Chez, you're absolutely right.

    Nobody can seriously demand from the Coke Company to stop their business. They're a company selling sodas. It's their f*cking job.

    If we don't like sodas, we should just stop buying and drinking them. Problem solved.

    If we feel sodas are addictive and hence should be regulated, then we should tax them. I'd support an approach to raise such taxes. But yes, there's some controversy (as is always with taxes).

    But to blame Coke Co. for selling classic coke (and putting sugar in it) is just kind of ridiculous. What did we expect them to do?!

    The real problem is messed up dietary guidelines. And those were not designed by soda manufacturers (well, maybe paid by them; then we should sue them, as well as all corrupt board members and politicians). But honestly... you cannot expect the fox to guard the henhouse. No surprises at this point...

  13. Anna
    The journalist does appear to be badgering the man a little. The bigger picture is that governments and industries have created this problem hand in hand over time. Singling out Coke is a way to shine a spotlight on part of a larger issue. Shifting gears in a big machine such as this will also take time, as it will have an impact on people in terms of jobs, healthcare, culture, habits, politics, and just about everything.
    Reply: #14
  14. FrankG
    "The journalist does appear to be badgering the man a little." Poor baby! :-P

    As has been pointed out: apparently Big-soda are innocently responding to consumer demand... so perhaps this executive is simply earning his multimillion dollar compensation package by doing his job?

    So funny to hear all these rationalisations trotted out in support of Big-soda and the blessed free-market economy... do they sound familiar to anyone else? Cast your mind back to when Big-tobacco was similarly on the ropes... no doubt they were just doing their job and responding to consumer demand too?

    Yes this is going to require a big shift: in what is acceptable, in policy and in prioritising public health over profits

  15. Moose
    Maybe, but people need to know that these companies use certain properties , like sugar addiction, to sell their product.
    So, is the duty of these companies to inform the public what they are selling and what ingredients it contains and the effects it has on humans.
    Only then the public can decide if they want to continue use this toxic substance.
  16. BobM
    Coke might not be responsible, but they certainly do not help. Additionally, the recommendation by the "experts" to eat a high carbohydrate diet did cause obesity. I never drank soda, but I did eat a tremendous amount of carbs. A normal day would be oats/some other hot cereal for breakfast, pasta for lunch, and brown rice and beans for dinner. Snacks would be rice cakes or maybe grapefruit. I kept my fat to less than 10% by calories. What I did not realize was happening (until looking back years later) was the incredible blood sugar increases due to this diet made me have mood swings, be depressed, be always hungry/famished, etc. I place blame solely on the US government and other institutions that bought in the low fat diet without actually testing this diet. I did exactly what the "experts" said I should do: I never ate fat and instead ate carbs. That turned out to be horrible advice for someone like me. And they're still pushing the same message!
  17. tw
    A couple of points: all of these beverage companies have teams of scientists to make the best soft drinks and foods at the cheapest input cost. The amount of sugar in the drink is known as the bliss point which is the amount of sweetener required past which the consumer sees no benefit.

    Michael Moss': Sugar, Salt, Fat is a great place to learn more about this.

    Therefore, the amount of sugar in Coke is directly associated with the amount of sugar in the drink which people achieve maximum pleasure. If they could reduce the sugar content without reducing customer perception and experience they would because they would save money and increase profits.

    I like Coke but don't drink it anymore because it's too sweet.....

    ....and you have to laugh at a recent Coke campaign highlighting calories. Absolute genius. Exploiting the stupidity amongst the diet and health industry.

  18. MarcusK
    I think this attack focused exclusively on sodas is highly counterproductive. A strawman is being set up, so that politicians can claim to have really done something about the obesity epidemic: "See, we've added large taxes to all sodas. Consumption is going to go down. Problem solved!"

    Consumption of sodas would very likely really go down. Would this solve the obesity epidemic? Of course not. There are still all those other countless cheap sources of carbs: pasta, donuts, bread, musli, etc, etc.

    So the next logical step would be to tax this stuff too. Result? The poor would be much poorer, since we're artificially raising the cost of most food. So welfare aid must be raised too! But wait, they're going to spend the extra money on the now more expensive foodstuff, which we wanted to discourage in the first place...

    To me, the only solution is to get the message out. Sites like dietdoctor are providing a tremendous amount information and education. It will take time, but the truth will come out in the end.

    Four years ago I was the first to go primal in my company. I remember people laughing at me with comments like: "I don't want to die of a heart attack at 45 due to eating so much fat."

    Three years later the very same guy (and his wife) went LCHF and were really surprised it worked for them too! Educating and convincing people is much easier when they see and feel the results for themselves.

    Thanks for this great site,


    Reply: #20
  19. Murray
    Looking at the epidemiological numbers and what I now about the metabolics, I'd rather my kids smoke a cigarette than drink a coke.

    Regarding fruit smoothies, it seems the advantage of whole fruit is that the sugar is mostly encased in cells, which means the sugar is released slowly as enzymes break down cell walls. I expect bacteria lower in the gut tract get some of the sugar as well, instead of biofilm bacteria in the upper gut. One study I read found the glycemic index of blended fruit was about midway between juice and whole fruit. I expect that reflects the efficiency of the blending in breaking open cells and making the sugar directly accessible.

    Reply: #21
  20. FrankG
    "I think this attack focused exclusively on sodas is highly counterproductive. A strawman is being set up..."

    Indeed a strawman IS being set up :-) Why choose emotive words like "attack" and why suggest that the focus is "exclusively on sodas"? That is not what I see here at all...

    There is already a broader message to an LCHF approach than simply reducing the consumption of sodas to an occasional treat but sodas are a start.

    Oh and more strawman by suggesting that taxes are the only approach being discussed here :-)

    Great that you, along with many of us, lead by example and try to get the message out one person at a time but this is going to require a societal change. Are you saying that the kind of reportage in the above clip is NOT helping to raise awareness of excessive added sugar in the diet?

  21. erdoke
    In fact fibers and organic acids mitigate the insulinogenic effect of sugars and that's an important difference between sodas and fruits. High fiber fruit juices still come out better than a Coke, regardless of the same or even higher sugar content. Not that I drink or promote drinking of copious amount of juices, but it's good to know that there are other important factors than sugar content.
  22. Ginny
    People are responsible for their own actions. No-one twists my arm to buy sodas. Businesses are in it for the money. They sell what people buy. If people want sugary sodas, someone will provide them. If people do not want them, they will not be profitable enough to be manufactured. Industry, or even government, is not responsible for what I put in my mouth. I am capable of doing my own research, if I am so inclined.
    Reply: #24
  23. François melançon
    "people are responsible for their own actions". Somewhat. "information is out there, even on the cans." Really? Did anyone ever see one the coke (or of any other soft drink) advertisements on TV? The last one made me cringe: the buff guy drinks a coke, drops it on his shirt and it gets wet. Pretty girls are around and laugh, until the shirt comes off and the guy shows an incredible six pack, then walks away, smiling, leaving the girls in awe. Message? Nothing about useless calories, obesity and diabetes! Rather: a subliminal message that if you drink coke, you'll magically get a six pack and girls will fall to your feet. That's what I call freedom of choice! And strangely, many people will believe it. Because it's on TV and TV does not lie. or does it?

    What about people who live in food deserts? Not a fresh vegetable, fresh meat or even fresh fruit around. Only processed crap and soft drinks. Do they have freedom of choice? Not really.

    Sure, soft drink companies are not the only ones responsible for the obesity epidemic. But by subsidizing dietitians and having them state that drinking soft drinks can be part of a healthy lifestyle, they are contributing to the epidemic big time and are certainly muddying the water.

    Why do you think the amount of sugar is indicated in grams and percentage of an arbitrarily chosen total number of carbs? Because most people have no clue of what a gram of sugar is. The industry is very resistant to indicate that amount in a way people will understand. it would not be good for business.

  24. FrankG
    Good for you Ginny, no-one is twisting your arm, you think for yourself! You're a responsible adult :-P

    OK so how about soda-machines in schools? Sports events and meal-programs sponsored by soda-companies? Dietitian seminars and training sessions bought and paid for by soda-companies? Government policies drafted and pushed through by soda-company lobbyists?

    They are just in business to make money after all.. and these are all GREAT business strategies to help boost their profits... right? We should just trust them to police themselves, then leave them alone to do what they do best... right?

    Heck, I even recall a TED-Talk by Belinda Gates (Bill's missus) where she praises Coke for their network of resellers, who apparently are better able to get their flavoured sugar-water out to remote villages in Africa, than the NGOs are able to get vital medical aid out to those same villages.

    Talk about good business! Go free-market economy... profit above all other considerations!

    Now how about we do the same with cigarettes? It used to be that way too... marketed and sold to school children. Sponsoring sporting events etc... etc... etc... No doubt you (as a responsible adult) are just fine with that as well?

  25. Chris the Barbarian
    This really is a tough situation. On the one hand, we have a free market in most western countries, guaranteed by the Constitution and international trade agreements. Free trade is really great, it promotes relationships between states, cultural exchange and whatnot.

    On the other hand, we have a worldwide obesity epidemic on our hands; and it did start with the growth of the junk / fast food industry. You can buy huge amounts of carb/sugar and fat ladden junk food in every corner, at every time of the day. And people do it, many people even don't really care about the health issues; they want to indulge in their junk food, feed the addiction.

    Information and Education won't help most obese people.

    P.s.: Would I shed a tear if the whole Soda and Junk Food Industry would go broke? LOL, no ;). But get real - they only sell it, because there is huge demand.

    Reply: #26
  26. bill
    C the B:

    "...fat ladden junk..."

    Have you something against fat?

  27. Chris the Barbarian
    Only if it is in form of a) trans fats and cheap vegetable oils, or b) comes along with lots of carbs (as in most junk food).

    So yes, I discriminate against certain kinds and conditions of fat / food ;). But neither the less, around 80% of my Calories come of fat - that's LCHF for you :D. It just needs to be Butter, fat meat, high fat dairy, .... the good stuff.

  28. Murray
    I'm fairly libertarian by nature, but the damage being caused by processed carbs is troubling. Modern sensibility has the state providing health care to those who need it and epidemics of diabetes and Alzheimer's are projected to bankrupt not just the health system, but entire nations. This would necessitate a fundamental change in values within modern society, toward letting the sick fend for themselves. Roll over, Charles Dickens.

    Accordingly, with the aggregate effect of unrestricted individual choice in consuming pure sugar beverages (especially when consumer desire surreptitiously manipulated by the most insidious psychological technologies available), this imposes a duty to proactively curtail the epidemic, both at the individual level and the social level. Sugar has become exceptional and the "free" market and "free" choice ideologies are free riders that externalize their costs for commercial profit and instant gratification and are thus not at all free and should no longer have free reign.

  29. FrankG
    Maybe it is partly due to my growing up in a post-war UK but I see that there is a line where, past which, public health takes precedence over "free-market".

    I realise that this rubs up against libertarian ideals but consider the many cases where such "regulation" already exists... how safe would an unregulated, "free-market" water or food supply be? Look to China for examples of adulterated food (baby formula for example) that
    has cost many lives in recent years.

    Consider traffic laws, seat belt laws, smoking laws etc... all these impinge on civil liberty and yet mostly they are accepted... why?

    When profit reigns supreme over all other considerations, the unscrupulous invariably take advantage of any way to make more money.

    I see Government (my representatives) having a role in public health and safety. While I, as an individual, lack the clout to reign-in unfettered profiteering by Big-tobacco, Big-soda etc... my Government ought to be able to do so, with my support.

    Sure the system is not perfect but that is why we need to make Government more accountable to, and representative of, the voting public.

    And in this case I am not talking about regulating individuals or their behaviour but rather big corporations who, everyone here seems to agree, are only in it for the money.

  30. Kamila
    Ask an average person on the street what 35g of sugar equal to and they will most likely have no idea. What I'd like to see is something more simple. Let's say a cube of sugar, many people can imagine that. Now put on a movie theater 32 oz (946ml) cup exactly how many cubes of sugar are in the entire cup without refills. Then people can make an informed decision. And if they want to consume 23 cubes of sugar in one hour or not is then clearly their choice.

    But then again, countries all over the world (esp. USA) are paying horrendous amount of healthcare (sickcare) money to deal with obesity which is in fact is your and my tax money. I would like my tax money to be spend preventing obesity and promoting health and wellness rather than dealing with people's bad nutritional choices. I believe that a wise government should step in and act on behalf of what's best for all citizens, not just the obese and sick.

  31. Christoph
    "23 in the smallest container of the cinema?!"
    "... in reality: people aren't drinking those."

    My To-Do-List: Hearing the joke of the century... check!!

  32. Stoffy
    Have been sitting on the sideline here and find there is a healthy debate going on. Everyone here have made valid points and arguments, but could I just say that to me the food, drug and pharmaceutical industries have become very powerful. When it comes to choice we as consumers are in some ways dictated to.

    I have worked in the health industry for 15years now and have seen how people have been effected by their diets and lifestyle choices. There have been many great advances in health care treatments in the short time I have been in health care, but to me all the effort time and money has been spent in trying to patch up the problems caused as apposed to getting to the root of the cause. In the way of choice that we have as patients we are literally forced to consume the food that is available to us that has been determined by a dietitian whom thinks they know what is best, based on the dietary guidelines set down by government and health carers.
    In reality it is slowly exasperating the problem, type 2 diabetics being given 'low GI' drink supplements such as chocolate drinks or juice, then there's the cereals and toast with margarines and to top it off having low fat foods. There's a corolation between us and government in a way we are both being told what to do by powerful parties with a lot at stake. We as consumers and individuals need to find a way to change this before it will be irreversible, if not for us we need to do it for the next generation.
    About the above video all I can say is it's nothing to do with 'caloric intake' it's plainly the sugar content.

  33. Nan
    Coca-Cola trying to defend it's unhealthy products is like any abuser trying to defend the abuse. We have a right to expect food and beverage companies to be truthful about their products. In the USA beer/alcohol ads all state "Drink responsibly." Sugar-laden foods-drinks should carry warnings about the real dangers of consuming more than 100g (as a example) of it a day, and be taxed like alcohol and tobacco.


  34. Jonathan Bagley
    This is Paxman's best known interview. He asks a politician the same question twelve times. Might be blocked outside the UK


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