Oh, you thought just because it was a month ago, that I’d forgotten about this?
Oh, no…I’m just getting caught up!
Heavy drinking may have led to the death of a New Zealand woman — but it wasn’t alcohol she was glugging. It was Coca-Cola, TVNZ reports.
She reportedly drank some 2.2 gallons of the soda every day, AFP notes, a habit that went on for years. Her family called it an “addiction” that resulted in the removal of multiple rotten teeth and the birth of at least one child lacking tooth enamel; her partner said Natasha Harris suffered withdrawal symptoms if she didn’t drink the stuff.
The 31-year-old mother of eight died following a cardiac arrhythmia in February 2010, and the coroner called out Coke in his report, which was released Tuesday.
“I find that, when all the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died,” the report said.
The examination after her death revealed an enlarged liver with fatty deposits due to too much sugar, a pathologist said. Low potassium in her bloodstream may also have been linked to the soda.
Harris apparently consumed more than two pounds of sugar and 970mg of caffeine a day; experts say even 500mg is dangerous.
Coca-Cola said it was “disappointed” about the coroner’s emphasis on Coke in Harris’ death, though his report did state that the company “cannot be held responsible for the health of consumers who drink unhealthy quantities of the product.”
There are five major takeaways, here. Let’s make it quick:
1) Don’t ever let anyone tell you that sugar doesn’t facilitate addiction. We can clearly see that this is a crock. There is no way in hell a person can consume so much of one product on a consistent basis, lose teeth, and get to the point where it affects the child they are carrying and still not feel compelled to just hang up the habit. No. Way. At. All.
2) Don’t ever let anyone lie to you about the amount of sugar in this stuff. For goodness sakes, there’s a third of a cup of sugar in your average 20oz of coke. A. Third. Of. A. Cup. Like I said in my column for Ebony this week:
That’s almost enough sugar to make a batch of cookies. It’s more sugar than you’ll find in a pound of apples. A pound of peaches. Two pounds of grapefruit. You could have a salad, a bottle of water, a scone and a pear for less sugar than you’ll find in the 20 oz of tragedy sitting on your desk right now.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that if I sat a 20-ounce glass of iced tea in front of you, right now, that you would not put 18 teaspoons of sugar in it. That’s right – you would not scoop your spoon into a sugar bowl 18 times, no matter how much better the glass of tea would taste with it, simply because it’d make you feel gluttonous. [source]
3) Don’t ever let anyone delude you on the nutritiousness of a damn soft drink, and the fact that it’s lack of nutrition is actually deleterious to your health. “Low potassium in her bloodstream,” to me, is the key – sodium and potassium tend to work with each other in a teeter-totter fashion; too much of one means you need more of the other to ensure they’re always balanced. The problem with pop (it’s pop; I don’t want to hear it) is that there’s salt in it. Sugar, fat, and salt – that processed food trifecta – don’t act alone; they function successfully in concert with at least one other element. With coke (and just about any other soft drink), sugar is paired with salt. If you’re drinking two gallons of the stuff daily – I cannot stress enough just how jarring that is – the amount of salt you’re introducing to your body is unreal. The average “over-salted vegetable” at least has potassium in it naturally to help balance that out; this? Nothing. And that is dangerous.
4) Don’t ever let anyone tell you that drinking sugar can actually fill you up in any way. A habit of drinking multiple 2-liters of coke a day for years tells me that she was also eating food and getting in some semblance of nutrients. She wasn’t subsisting on only coke for years. 2.2 gallons of coke is 3,419 calories. I don’t know about you, but if I have a really ratchet dinner, I wake up the next morning not hungry. In fact, depending on how large my dinner was, it might be a while before I’m actually hungry again. In fact, I’m fairly certain that if you laid 3,419 calories in clean nutritious food out in front of a person, there’s no way in the world they could consume it all, and that includes the dreaded juice and smoothie.
5) Don’t ever let anyone lead you to believe that this couldn’t be you. Addictions are rarely about “just liking the product a lot.” Addictions aren’t even always about the feeling you get from consumption. They’re the perfect storm of an inability to cope with life, an affordable price, and a perpetual need to ignore what you’re doing to yourself by choosing to abuse an item or product. Your product of choice might not be coke – it might not even be one specific product that helps you feed your addiction. But if, in light of what continual consumption of a product is doing to your body, it is still hard for you to give it up, then chances are high that you may have an addiction that you need to address, yourself. And that’s real.
I felt for this women – she clearly has a family who loves her and children who need her, and it’s an awful thing to hear about. It was doubly frustrating to me to hear Coke’s response was more about how “disappointed” they were about being cited as the cause for her arrhythmia, instead of declining to comment and simply wishing her family well. This wasn’t Coke’s opportunity to make its plea for moderation; just have some respect. Good grief.
What’d I miss, y’all?