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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 04 2009

Coca-Cola Cares About Your Health

By Mark Sisson
97 Comments

It’s the stuff of quintessential irony. Paradox. An absurdity so egregious it’s painful to type, let alone view on the screen. (There’s actual smoke rising from my keyboard….) We’re talking corporate “public health” sponsorships so ridiculous your eyes will fall out of your head. First, a show of hands. How many of you are familiar with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)? Sounds like a thoughtful, professional organization, yes? A group dedicated to noble and intelligent advocacy for good family health, no? Voices of expert reason, rational and practical medical authority, right? A group that would – with sound mind and sobriety – partner with a soda company for a nutrition-focused consumer education program??? Folks, I got my boots on today for a good old-fashioned butt kicking (blog style, that is). Pull up a chair. I’m just getting started.

Here’s the gist. The aforementioned Academy of Family Physicians recently partnered with The Coca-Cola Company (peddler of Coke, Sprite, Fanta and tricked up sugar-, I mean vitaminwater and POWERADE), to help “educate consumers about the role their products can play in a healthy, active lifestyle.” Yes, do the double take….  Now sit with it. Is it burning your brain yet? (Just rest and take a breath whenever you need to.)

This truly pains me, but I’ll continue. Keep in mind that all the quotes are from the AAFP’s own website.

The high fructose corn syrup with caramel color beverage company has benevolently offered their financial assistance in creating “consumer education content on beverages and sweeteners for [the AAFP’s website] FamilyDoctor.org, an award-winning consumer health and wellness resource.” H-E-A-L-T-H resource – award-winning, no less? Oh, there’s more. The president-elect of the AAFP welcomes Coca-Cola’s partnership in “teach[ing] consumers how to make the right choices and incorporate the products they love into a balanced and healthy lifestyle.” R-I-G-H-T choices? O.K., let’s go for broke here. As for Coca-Cola’s self-congratulations, their talking head tells us the “partnership will help provide Americans with credible information on beverages and enable consumers to make informed decisions about what they drink based on individual need.” C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E? and N-E-E-D?!! (My keyboard is now a smoldering pile of dust.)

Where do you even begin with this farce? But wait – there’s more.

The AAFP’s partnership with the evil empire is the first of what they hope to be many productive collaborations with corporate sponsors. (Gee, nothing like getting off to a stellar start!) It’s part of the organization’s new “Consumer Alliance,” a division created from the brilliant realization “that consumer products companies have significant influence over consumer health.” (Gee, so let’s just give them more influence???) The AAFP’s Consumer Alliance “strategy” then is to “partner with companies who demonstrate good corporate stewardship and a strategic focus on consumer health.” (After all, how can you read that description and not think soda?)

And before you think this is a random, lucky feather in Coca-Cola’s hat, let’s pull another debased acronym out of the hat of shame. Another show of hands. This time it’s the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the “world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals” and partner with Coca-Cola. (Proving yet again that big isn’t always better…) With their impressive headcount, they’re “committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.” Unlike the AAFP (mere greenhorns in the corporate sponsorship realm), these guys are impressively entrenched in big corporate dollars. Let’s take a look at a few of the ADA’s sponsors. We have Pepsico, National Dairy Council, Mars, Inc. (Anyone for a Snickers?), Kellogg’s, General Mills, and, oh yes, Truvia. (Very clever, Cargill, we see you hiding behind that stevia leaf.) Oh, now there’s a impressive troupe – just the kind of folks you trust to offer solid nutritional advice. They all have a real stake in helping Americans make good nutritional choices, eh?

But enough about Coca-Cola and the corporate giants themselves. After all, it’s not really about these guys. Companies that sell crap will always exist because they have a right to and because there will always be people ignorant or self-destructive enough to keep them in business. The real outrage here is the willingness of medical organizations (and public schools (though this is changing), and hunger relief charities, and “life-changing”, weight-loss reality shows) to surrender even the appearance of objectivity and basic intelligence for a few dollars that – pardon me – don’t seem to be making any difference whatsoever in the American public’s health. It defies all common sense to allow soda and candy bar companies to be credible partners in any discussion of nutrition and wellness. For these medical “experts,” I’d say, you’re doing more than just taking their money. For the love, they offer it for a reason! They pay up to buy legitimacy and the implicit endorsement of their products that these visible partnerships offer. These companies do it to boost their public image and show that their products have an expert-sanctioned place in the American diet. How much are these medical associations really benefiting from being played so badly? Seriously, if the AAFP wants to add some content to their FamilyDoctor.org website, how much does it really cost to hire competent people to put together legitimate research for a public audience? Maybe the problem isn’t money as much as money management? Sponsorships from smaller, more truly health-conscious companies wouldn’t have cut it? They needed so much money for these modest projects that they had to go begging to the monstrosities of corporate America?

Finally, there’s the argument that these organizations don’t have the money for true visibility on their own. They can’t compete with the omnipresent junk food ads put out by the corporate giants that sell the stuff. Gee, so what’s their answer? Team up with these same seedy players so you can buy your ad space (wherever that might be)! The fact is, you’ve already lost the argument. You’ve rescinded the right to call a spade a spade and soda the worthless horsesh– that it is. What’s the point in even making an argument then? The informed public doesn’t have any faith in you, and the ignorant ones who are looking for an excuse to continue their morning Coke habit now have it. You’ve said that soda can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet, and that’s all these people need to hear. Trust me, they don’t bother listening to the rest of the message, and they’re certainly not going to scour your organization’s website to look for any other reason to abstain. The AAFP’s FamilyDoctor.org can boast all it wants about being the “only consumer health Web site owned and operated by a professional medical association….” Sorry, AAFP, where I come from bunk is bunk, however you spin it. And selling out is selling out, however you justify your deal with the devil in a red can.

I’ve said my piece. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

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97 thoughts on “Coca-Cola Cares About Your Health”

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  1. What’s next…is Saten himself going to be teaching Sunday School?

    1. OK… the irony is not lost on me. It’s like the Cali Cartel advising the FDA on how rock cocaine is natural and somehow good for us… they probably have the money to pull it off.

      On a side issue: I’ve been off the sodas of all kinds for a while now… what diabetic friendly sweetener would you recommend for my remaining Coffee vice? Stevia tates horrible.

      1. When I transitioned off of turbinado sugar or honey in my coffee (lightened at the time with soy creamer) I decided to use Truvia, which tasted OK. I gradually used less and less, and now I only put real honest-to-goodness half and half in my coffee, and NO sweetener. I had weaned myself to using so little Truvia at the time that it really wasn’t that large a leap.

        I’ve mostly re-educated my tastebuds, but I’ll still occasionally want it sweetened – but I seem to have plenty of willpower to enjoy my coffee without.

        1. Sometimes I mix in cinnamon with my coffee, which makes it taste pretty good. The spiciness of the cinammon almost passes off for sweetness. As a bonus cinnamon is healthy and contains trace amounts of some vitamins and minerals.

      2. Have you looked into using Xylitol at all? It’s a low glycaemic index sweetener found naturally in various plants and seed. It’s slowly absorbed and metabolized (apparently independently of insulin). It doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar level and can be used as a sugar-free sweetener for diabetics. Plus it’s actually tooth-friendly and can prevent tooth decay.

    2. Mark it’s obvious that these org’s aren’t set up to be benevolent, altruistic, purveyors of sound health and diet choices, they are set up from the get go to make money plain and simple…Even Not for profit business’ have financial perks for the founders…

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see a carbonated shadow behind the founding of such an organization….lol

      JM

      1. Or don’t. It’s high fructose that comes from a different plant. Gimmick.

        Don’t have to believe me though. Just search “agave high fructose”

  2. Sadly the Susan Komen foundation(a breast cancer advocate) even partnered with a brewery to get donations even though alcohol is implicated in causing breast cancer.

    Powerade is the rival of Gatorade from Pepsico which was laden with HFCS in 1992 to mass market it.

    All of these food corporations try to subvert andy real effort to make America healthy with money. Its surprising how far grants go to influence science and politicians. Or is it?

    1. I heartily disagree. The corporations are not out to make America unhealthy.

      They are out to make money and tailor their offerings to suit demand (coke zero, powerade zero).
      When a critical mass of people stop buying a product, they WILL change it or leave.
      (e.g. McD’s in India and salads)

      The argument about grants is valid, BUT unless the government administers an anonymous system or bans private funding, I doubt it will end.

      1. true that….if they couuld make money selling brussel sprouts and grass fed beef on a large scale they would….but people “excuse the language”

        Like their shit…and don’t care what it does to them…so they sell they shit…cause it’s cheap…

  3. I will stick with store brand club soda with some lime juice added thankyouverymuch!

    Damn soda companies…

  4. Last night I caught a few minutes of Biggest Loser, and saw Extra Gum hocked as a “healthy snack” twice. Once when Bob lovingly took one contestant for a walk and explained all the wonderful benefits of chewing extra gum instead of eating an ice cream bar, then another time when a contestant (who didn’t even have pockets to carry the gum) opened up his pack of the same flavor of Extra gum while taking a break from his workout.

    The advertising in television doesn’t even try to be subtle anymore, it’s pathetic. In shows that are supposedly trying to better people’s health like The Biggest Loser, they should be promoting healthy IDEAS not PRODUCTS (mind you, I only agree with about 1% of what goes on with that show…that people need to eat less in general…other than that it’s just an exercise in killing yourself with too much exercise). Unfortunately, most of America latches on to these recommendations as truth regardless of who funded the study (and consequently who are waiting to make money from being recommended as a healthy part of the American diet).

    1. yeah….cause there’s a million people in one place who aren’t athletes watching it and buying the drink….

      that’s WHY they sponsor it…

  5. I highly agree with all these points but Mark, let us also stay away from using profanity. (ie: “horsesh..” ) in these commentaries. No matter how steamed we can become, language plays a large part on our mental health as we all know and teaching our youth to phrase opinions in proper ways can be best done by way of leading by example. Thanks for this interesting yet frustrating blog type of news.

    1. I am always awed at how the coldest dish of revenge can be served up in a Victorian novel with the most proper of English…

      Not sure if it is part of the business casual style that goes with the blogosphere, but profanity does seem to becoming more and more common

      Mark’s comment was implied which is subtle.

      I am rather mortified with how the wise among us who are latching on to healthy habits in diet and exercise ( to include the intense styles used for the military) have felt compelled to start cussing “like drunken sailors”.

      We will do better getting people to drop fat bombs if we stop dropping f-bombs as if we were toddlers with a snack cup of drooly cheerios begging for attention.

      1. THANK YOU! I agree with you 100%!!! Part of being a civilized people is using civilized language!

    2. I hate to admit it, but the more emotional the argument sounds, the less rational it sounds, even if it is correct.

  6. I guess the only (DRINK COKE) ones left untouched (COKE IS GOOD FOR YOU) by big corporate sponsorship (COKE, YUM!) are the commenters on this and (COKE = HEALTH) related primal/paleo blogs.

    For now…

    (This comment was brought to you through the sponsorship of COKE. COKE, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime snack. Got COKE?)

    1. Don’t forget the midnight sugar-crash COKE.

      A friend of mine once asked if I ever got up in the middle of the night and felt like getting a coke. Really.

  7. Chris,

    I believe Mark did just that by not spelling it out. And please, horesh.. is definitely way down on the list of words that could be used.

    In regards to the partnership, color me “not surprised”. The amount of $$$ these companies have is truly astonishing.

  8. Aaron, hilarious!

    But seriously, this is just one more example of how deep the hole is that our society has dug for itself.

    All of us that know the real story (like Mark) must continue to bring awareness through education and ourselves be an example.

  9. Mark,

    I love the your most recent blogs. So full of nasty surprises to keep my mind churning.

    I know there are so many misguided idiots jockeying for top-spot in the lead-Americans-astray competition. These idiots need to be exposed. I hope you gave the the AAFP your mindful. Selfish of you to keep it to us, your loyal fans.

    And, from the AAFP’s web site:
    “The Academy [AAFP] was founded in 1947 to promote and maintain high quality standards for family doctors who are providing continuing comprehensive health care to the public. Other major purposes of the Academy include:
    To provide responsible advocacy for and education of patients and the public in all health-related matters; ……”
    And again.
    “To maintain and provide an organization with high standards to fulfill the above purposes and to represent the needs of its members.”

    High standards to promote the sickness of our members’ clients to better our businesses?

    The biggest problem is that it is too difficult for most human beings to back down and admit being wrong. This goes for Ornish, McDougall, Campbell and the other extreme phatphobics (OK fatphobics) plantphilics, the USDA, most physicians and nutritionists, and the media.

    We need a court case like the one in Sweden [where Dr Anna Dalquist was sued for putting a diabetic patient on low carb]. The person who organizes something like this in the US deserves a gold-plated halo and a life-time supply of Vibrams.

  10. Speaking of diet coke, I always got migraines from drinking it. Thinking it was the apertame, I just did an experiment with splenda sweetened diet coke, and, after one a day, for only two days in a row, I’m suffering a migraine. It started as visual disturbance while out running errands.

    So in the spirit of satanic evil everywhere, I’ll be a witness to the fact that with diet coke, it isn’t the sweetener only that has something bad in it, its the COKE. uHG gotta go lay down in dark room now.

  11. When I first read about this, I think I read that 24 physicians who were members quit over this. It’s not a big number but considering the sway, even that number is hopeful that those involved are seeing that something is wrong with that.

  12. “soda can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet…”

    The implicit omission is “…despite it’s negative effects” against said healthy, well-balanced diet.

    Thanks for the deception powerful institutions!

  13. The reason that low carb, primal, etc foods will always be marginalized in this country is because a huge portion of our economy is dependent on carbs and sweets. If everyone stopped drinking Coca Cola hundreds of thousands if not millions of people would lose their incomes. So the health care industry has to go along even though they know better.

    I agree that it is despicable for the ADA to go along with that also but I am not surprised. I have read several articles written in obesity and dietician journals which clearly point out that carbs/insulin are responsible for the obesity epidemic yet they still blame cholesterol and fat.

    Either they are not reading the scientific advancements in their own fields or are choosing to ignore the information.

    I have to go to them (Registered Dieticians) as part of my transplant work up and it is so sad. One of them told me that Cod Liver oil didn’t have Omega 3s, and when I asked her about Iodine she didn’t know and she gave me some book written in the 1980’s.

    These are the most knowledgeable professionals about nutrition, really very sad.

    I am willing to be a test case or law suit about low carb and renal failure, they have had success in Europe with the low carb diet but it is verbotten here in America.

  14. Repulsed, but not surprised in the slightest.

    The world is coming to an end people. Load up your guns and dig in LOL! Maybe when they’ve grabbed the guns, we can effectively use squirt guns full of Coke to keep them back. There’s a small chance a blast of Coke to the eye might be worse than drinking it.

  15. About 2 years ago I decided I wanted to become a dietitian. I got part way into my degree program when 2 things derailed me: I took my first nutrition class, and then we moved to Hungary. The second had a lesser impact then the first did!

    I sat and listened to a very nice lady in her middle years go on about how beef was killing the world, did a graded class assignment that included eating soy and drinking soy milk, and listened to the tired argument about calories in/calories out and walking (slowly) for health. As she wandered around the classroom, smoothing her shirt over her slight middle buldge, she always seemed scattered and as if she could never truly concentrate. She was a lovely woman, but seriously not someone I’m talking cues from, ya know?

    I got so frustrated with the common themed garbage being spewed making fat American’s fatter that I just couldn’t face being a part of the system, of playing the game.

    The ADA is full of people that listened to lectures, and pass on that same tired crap never doing hard core research themselves; they only read the lit that supports the ideas and conclusions they have already come to. Argue and they ignore you.

    Or worse, fail you!

  16. Hi,
    I’m new to the forum and about 3 weeks into the Primal Blueprint and loving it:)

    This article drove me crazy just like when I first saw those stupid ads esposing HFCS as natural, blah, blah…

    Soooo, in typical me-fashion, I had to call the AAFP. Guess what, I got the run-around. Surprise, surprise. But…I was told that “so & so” will call me back so he can explain the program to me. I can’t wait. I’m sure I’ll learn so much new information that I’ll have to come back to this forum to school everyone!!

    I figure one small step…maybe if more people called them out it would make a difference? Where did those HFCS ads go anyway? Did they get enough backlash from the small fraction of the general public that knows better?

    I think my blood pressure is elevated…gotta go rest Primal style now

  17. That phrase always bugged me. “Well-balanced”. Like its a scale. On one side is all the healthy stuff you eat, and on the other is all the garbage, and somehow it all just balances out? Don’t get me started on everythinginmoderation too…

    1. Everything in moderation is an excuse to be lazy and pay attention to nothing…just keep doing what you always have. Its intellectual cowardice.

      1. Good point. It’s a brush off. A wave of the hand. “This doesn’t concern me”. Usually spoken by people who naturally don’t have a big issue with weight, so they aren’t spurning into thinking about their general health.

    2. Well it is a scale, but it isn’t a balanced scale. 1 or 2 pieces of Halloween candy Saturday, and no candy, and then no other garbage at all for a month balances out nicely.

      Of course people who preach moderation never think about what is really moderate.

  18. It took me 10 months to deduce that Coke Zero was making my bones and joints ache. I thought I was dying. Nope, it was the chemicals.

    1. You realize that Coke puts salt in their drinks to make you thirstier and drink more? What a company!

      1. not really.
        Sodas have salt for a few reasons:
        – the water has salt
        – salt is added for flavour balance

        They don’t actually add salt itself, they add a salt of benzoate as a preservative.

  19. At one point, then 200+ pounds overweight, I was eating a tiny sweetened yogurt for breakfast (and starving), or a bagel (with horrid margarine), and things like ramen (low-fat!) for dinner (and starving) (oh yeah and the aerobics that nearly killed me, that helped. NOT!). And getting fatter.

    I ate less than about anybody I knew, I was sick and weak and obviously malnutritioned I see now, and getting fatter by the day. From a whole family of huge women, after failing to lose weight on a high-carb diet I just figured I was doomed. Not till I hit around 520 did I actually find and experimentally try lowcarb (I’m currently ~370 and eating PaNu mostly).

    I cannot tell you how disgusted I am that years of my life (and my child’s life) and health were destroyed because I believed the general advice that fat is bad and grains are good and oh yeah, that nurse telling me how to lose weight I definitely needed to (further) reduce my protein. For all the utter BS this is on a grand scale, on a personal scale, this crap is ruining people’s lives in horrible up-close detail.

    Diabetics in my extended family, influenced by Cadbury-Schweppes and other sponsors of ADA, are sure that eating CANDY AND PIE are just fine “in moderation” and they MUST have whole grains and as a result it’s damn hard to do anything right food-wise, and they die off one foot and eye and heart attack at a time — slowly, lucratively for food companies and pharma companies and the medical industry. Yeah on the surface it’s just irony Mark, but up close and personal it’s a nine year old bawling because her mother just got a leg amputated and her favorite uncle keeled over and their entire lives are overwhelmed by the constant trauma of obesity and horrible health issues. Oh — but really, it was because “they ate too many calories and were slothful” you know–of course. Not because HEALTH AUTHORITIES were intentionally contributing to the mass poisoning of an entire freakin culture.

    It is evil. I’m not even religious but that is the only word that comes close. When you look at the sheer staggering scope of misery and pain and fear and death and grief and more, and then realize it’s all about money, there isn’t even words for how vile it is.

    PJ

    1. Wow, PJ, powerful comment. Wish a few of those “balanced diet” advocates would see this.

  20. The AAFP is only doing what any good organization does, secures the future of their constituents. A coke a day assures a doc’s pay !

  21. No doubt these companies like Coca Cola have stocks in the pharmaceutical companies and visa versa. One to get you sick and the other to sell you their pills. Scratching each others backs all the way to the bank.

  22. I saw the “gum incident” last night too, as I was flipping around the tube and landed on the Biggest Loser. I thought I would stay and watch given what Mark wrote about that show a little while ago. Don’t get me wrong, I chew gum, but I don’t consider it part of my “Master Plan”. I guess if you start with gum as a staple it’s not a big leap to sugary sodas.

    There was one partially-good thing I saw; the cast prepared a lovely, fresh garden salad (at the White House). One problem: Where was the meat to go with it??

  23. Damn it. All this talk about coke now has me craving a diet coke.

  24. I don’t see Coke or any flavored waters in Nature… when will the world get back to primal and realize that if it doesn’t come directly from nature, it is not what you are to consume. We have come so far that people don’t even know/remember the simple concept of being healthy.

  25. It’s like Burger King sponsoring the footy… Be fit, healthy & active like these sports stars! Eat our burgers!!

  26. Soda is bad news. It’s difficult to trust any organizations in the name of “health” these days.

    We have to become more aware and demand better. For ourselves and for the world.

    As for soda, just think about much sugar it contain scares me. Not to mention other health related problems such as kidney disease. There was also study done to show that caramel colored soda increased aging in skin too.

  27. Reminds me of the kiddie cereal commercials… “part of a balanced breakfast”…yeah, the crappy part that you hope might be balanced out by other stuff….(not the stuff in the commercials, though. They always show O.J. and toasted white bread…would you like some sugar to wash down your sugar and sugar?)

  28. Dean Swift, eat your heart out (no, not literally – that would be too primal).

  29. The sad thing its, it’s not just Coke. McDonald’s has gone all “healthy” by offering salads and apple fries. They do it for their image. Does anyone really buy those healthy things? Nope. But it doesn’t matter, because McDonald’s gives the illusion that they care about your health and your family’s health.

    Karin made a good point about the kids’ cereals. Frosted Mini Wheats is on this we’re-good-for-your-kid’s-brain kick. FROSTED Mini Wheats. Good for kids’ mental health? Really?

    Or how about Nutella’s new comercial? The mother says she likes knowing her kids are eating something healthy and nutritious. Really? Isn’t Nutella sugar, chocolate, fat and a little hazelnut flavor thrown in for good measure?

    The problem is that all of these companies try these scams because someone’s falling for them!

    1. A while back I was really excited about Nutella… that was until I looked at the label in the store when I went to buy some.

      Nutella = a healthy thick spread to wash down with a Coke. All part of a balanced diet of sugar.

      1. do this:
        – 50 gm crushed hazelnuts
        – Add 1 tsp of dutch cococa
        – 1 cup Unswtnd Almond Milk (Vanilla)
        – Stevia per your taste

        Blend everything together…presto!! primal Nutella

  30. Well with the BO administration getting ready to evoke the fat tax on food and beverages that are frankly bad for our health, it would appear that Coke is positioning it’s self with big gun Medical Lobbyist organization to cover COKES interests. You know that they are going to lose money with the FAX tax…

    Just my two pennies.

    Perhaps their going to put cocaine back in the recipe?

  31. Just like I used to tell my students in answer to why things are the way they are: “Follow the money.” Money is an agreement. Award-winning organizations and websites are based on agreements. Just dig down and find out what the agreements are and who is making them and, VOILA!, we find clarity.

    Oh, and that non-issue about profanity: just substitute “road apples” for Mark’s horsey comment. Come on, people! Profanity is an agreement, too!

  32. I got a fever…
    …and the only cure is “More Cow Smell!”

    Grok Cussed, “UGG Damn it!”

  33. > Perhaps their going to put cocaine back in the recipe?

    At least the people they’re still poisoning would be skinnier. (…)

  34. I had my first Coke in at least five years yesterday. We were moving offices, the water was gone, I was really* thirsty and a coworker handed me an icy cold Coke.

    “What’s ONE Coke going to do to me?” I thought.

    I took one sip, felt all my teeth threaten to fall out, and threw it away. Turns out I’d rather be dying of thirst than dying of Coke.

  35. To be fair to the Coca Cola corporation– they do own Minute Maid so some of those products might be considered part of healthy nutrition.
    However, just the idea that an organization like the AAFP would partner with a corporation whose chief interests are selling soda, boggles the mind. Bill Maher hit the nail on the head when he made this comment.
    Big Food and Big Pharma don’t want you dead and they don’t want you healthy;
    they want you somewhere in between.
    I will definitely write to the AAFP and
    voice my opinion.

    1. Minute Maid might be slightly better than coke, but it is still mostly sugar. I wouldn’t call it in any way healthy.

  36. Starting in 1999, I went low-carb, primarily just to be a supportive husband — it was my wife’s idea, because she had been diagnosed as diabetic, was on two meds, and getting worse. I was convinced that just like any other diet, we would be worse off in six months, but like I said, I wanted to be supportive.

    What happened next blew my mind. Over the next 12 months, I lost 100 lbs. But that wasn’t the best part. My restless leg syndrome vanished, my arthritis vanished, my severe acne vanished, my night vision improved dramatically, and my blood pressure went down.

    The interesting part of those secondary side-effects of low-carbbing is that they all occurred during the FIRST TWO WEEKS, long before I had lost any significant weight.

    Bear with me… I’m getting around to my discovery about cola beverages in a minute…

    One of the things I had cut out completely was carbonated beverages. Back in 1999, there weren’t any diet sodas that didn’t taste like crap, and since I was off of sugar, I didn’t drink any of the regular ones. But in mid-2000, Diet-Rite Cola with Splenda came out, and it actually had a bearable taste, so I bought a case of the stuff, and started drinking 3 or 4 cans a day.

    …and on day 3, my Restless Leg Syndrome came back with a vengeance. As luck would have it, I had gotten into the habit of keeping a detailed diet log of absolutely everything I was eating, and during that week, the ONLY change to my routine had been the addition of Diet-Rite Cola. So I cut it back out, and sure enough, the RLS went away again in a couple of days.

    Being a curious sort of guy, I decided to see if I could discover what the hell that was all about, so I started looking up everything I could find about each of the ingredients. When I got to “phosphoric acid”, I bingoed. Turns out that if you are getting sufficient protein, you’re getting enough phosphorus, and the only mechanism the body has for dumping excess phosphorus is by combining it with CALCIUM! A little research on calcium showed that the body has trouble absorbing calcium, so if you have anything that is chronically depleting it, it doesn’t even matter how much calcium you are getting by way of supplements. And calcium isn’t just about bones — it regulates how the muscles and nerves work, too (in balance with magnesium and potassium). And there was the connection with RLS.

    The phosphoric acid in carbonated beverages (almost all of them have it added, for the “mouth feel”) may be just as bad, if not worse, than the HFCS.

      1. I have varied the amount of caffeine from zero to 5-6 cups of coffee since that time, and I have not had a recurrence of RLS. And caffeine is not a listed ingredient of Diet-Rite Cola.

        Caffeine does have some other effects on me that I don’t like, so I have pretty much cut it out anyway, but I do not think it was a major contributor to my RLS.

      2. Just went back and read the abstract you mentioned. Like most “studies” in nutrition, this one would not get a passing grade in a rigorous collegiate-level science course. It reminds me of the “study” that provided “proof” that chocolate candy does not cause acne. One of the most fundamental laws of the scientific method is that regardless of how carefully you measure something, if you are measuring the wrong thing(s), your results are guaranteed to be meaningless. I could go on for quite a while about the obvious errors of this “study”, but suffice it to say that the “researchers” got exactly enough data to “prove” their pre-conceived notions, and no more.

        1. i agree that ‘most’ studies are bunk…but a peer reviewed one is likely to be one of them..

          ah well

          agree to disagree on the safety of diet cola? then we go back to collectively hating the vagaries of full sugar sodas

        2. I suppose you can believe anything you want about diet colas. And “peer-reviewed” studies, too. I once read a “peer-reviewed” study that removed the sugar from the diet of the test group, and concluded from the substantial health improvements that animal protein was bad for diabetics. The one cited here was not quite as egregious, but the data was NOT sufficient to support the conclusion, which is the mark of a “study” conducted by, and “peer-reviewed” by, True Believers.

          It is quite possible that diet cola is not as bad for you as the stuff with HFCS. But I don’t think it’s particularly good for you, either. I have convincingly verified to myself that Diet-Rite Cola with Splenda *causes* RLS in me, and I no longer have any use for the stuff. While I strongly suspect that the culprit is phosphoric acid, it would take more research to actually pin that down (and could possibly be due to more than one ingredient, or even some interaction with another component of my diet), but having successfully rid myself of a major sleep disorder which affected me for over 2 decades by simply omitting cola beverages, I have basically lost interest in researching that particular item further. I am more concerned with solving my next major health problem, namely, getting rid of the remaining 50 excess lbs I’m still carrying around. After fairly easily losing over 100 lbs, I’m finding it inexplicably difficult to dump the remainder of the excess, even with Dr. Eades 6wc.

          BTW, “hating the vagaries of full sugar sodas” is also somewhat outside the realm of science. Let us merely OBSERVE and VERIFY the bad effects, and leave “hating” to the True Believers. I consider myself a scientist, not a disciple.

      1. My wife lost about 80 lbs on low-carb, and did successfully get off both diabetes meds. But was still more than 90 lbs overweight. After some deliberation, she chose R-Y gastric bypass, and was able to lose down to within 10 lbs of her goal weight and keep it there.

        Unfortunately, she is now addicted to chronic cardio exercise, and she has to be extremely careful about eating to avoid “dumping”, but it’s better than being more than 170 lbs overweight. I have not followed in her footsteps. Still trying to dump that last 50 lbs via diet.

  37. If Dante were writing THE DIVINE COMEDY today there would be a circle in Hell reserved for doctors who corrupt health for profit, who operate for profit, and who ignore real science for profit.

  38. Where on the AAFP website is the news about Coke sponsorship?

  39. Great post Mark! I was laughing the whole time. I really don’t know why anyone would even want to drink sodas and other sugary drinks at all! With all the contradicting info out there the companies should be out of business. Guess they’re just really good at covering things up. I also read the Truvia link. I think I’ll stay away from any sweeteners including sugar, the occasional honey though!

  40. There’s problem with the language too. “Part of a healthy, well-balanced diet” or “in moderation”. Which is really code for “We know you’re going to eat bad things anyway, but this gives you an excuse to say it’s only ‘part’.”

  41. wow. well said, mark! not that I don’t take a second thought on any advices the ADA or any of those health orgs are given already, knowing who’s behind them definitely helps me relaxing more about ignoring their BSs..

  42. ok, so I know we are talking about AAFP…but now they are trying to make soda “healthy” by adding antioxidents!

    http://www.7up.com/text/cherry7up.aspx

    I saw this on a comercial, looked at my husband and we both rolled our eyes and then changed the channel…sheesh.

  43. You know, I have cooked and worked in restaurants for over 20 yrs…It has been a long road..but I first read the “Origin Diet” and a few bells went off..Then I loved Elsan Haas..but something wasn’t quite right..The Eades’ Protein Power..here we go!Now we are getting somewhere! This was all in he 90’s. I have been spying on Marks blog for a very long time! Thank You! I love cooking healthfully and because of my industry background, it is really easy for me to cook REAL food. I have wanted to share this with people interested in cooking healthfully for themselves, but the more I looked into conventional nutrition…I will NOT do it…Holistic nutrition, possibly..$$$$$=studies=work and I can not play that game! Nutitionists in nursing homes, Dr.’s offices and most wellness centers preach…you guessed it…whol grains and low fat! What’s a Paleo/Primal Mom to do? I really want to break into the wellness field and use my talents..: I am one of the most personable people you will ever meet..and I can cook a steak like nobody’s business. And I think grains suck. HFCS too. Artificial sweetners? Not for us. Big Pharma? Suck it! LOL

  44. Sorry, I get a little carried away..My actual issue was with the giants..Coke, Splenda, Aspartame,AAFP, McDonald’s, Kellogg etc…What exactly will it take to not only shift CW..that will come..but to change the economics? Ever?

  45. WELL SAID . . . The fox is watching the hen house, no? I am angry that these supposed “all knowing,” “HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS” have succumbed to these GIGANTIC MONEY MAKING MACHINES known as corporate America and will gladly sacrifice our health in the greedy quest for a buck. They take us for suckers and I guess we are. Don’t fall for marketing schemes that tell us that Sodium nitrite, HFCS, BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE,POTASSIUM BROMATE, etc. are okay. OKAY . . . these products just make production, shelf life, transportation, presentation, sales, better for the company. They DO NOT CARE ABOUT OUR HEALTH. PERIOD.

  46. I love Coca-Cola. It’s even better at McDonalds with fries, ketchup and a greasy- meaty, bread-packed stomach-bloating Big Mac!
    But thanks to my research and sites like this one all that “type” of food has gone into my indulgence pile to be eaten omly once a quarter, instead of once a week, or even (gulp!) twice per week. I now walk by the beautifully curved bottles of Coke in my house and proudly tell myself, “I love you, but once every 90 days and only one bottle!” Luckily the nail dissolving substance will still be good until 2013, so no need to dump the bottles. I know, when Coke Inc. talks about “healthy” USE they mean one bottle every other day: Those babes at Coke like to smile that pearly-white, bleached, marketing-buzz, green-tea without sugar, size-zero smile when they say that blurb about “part of a nutritious diet” But we all know the truth and it’s not just the Coke, it’s the other zillions of toxins we don’t even think about of which we can read here for hours. So after diet optimization, when asked if I want to represent Coke for 1 million US per year I will do it! But ONLY if I’m allowed to tell the truth about my intake! Otherwise I’ll take that zero cash all-the green-tea-you-can-drink sponsorship from the organic tea growers of the lower Yakima valley!