Foodies rose up in arms when the news broke that there was plan to replace the sugar cane in Mexican Coke (or ‘Mexicoke’) with American style corn syrup. The Mexican government recently imposed a new tax of $0.08 per liter of soda in response to the country’s growing obesity epidemic (Mexico is now the most obese country in the world), prompting bottling company Arca Continental to float the idea.
According to the LA Times, “The outcry began when news outlets such as Quartz reported that executives from Arca Continental, the Mexican bottler, suggested in an earnings call that it would move to use cheaper sweeteners after the Mexican government imposed a new tax on soda.”
Fear not though American Foodies, your beloved ‘natural’ coke won’t be changing in Mexicoke sold outside of Mexico. The Times report continues: “Arca Continental, however, clarified and said changes to how its pop is sweetened would occur only to soda sold in Mexico.”
It is worth bearing in mind that back in the 1970’s and 80’s, sugar was seen as the bad guy, and high fructose corn syrup the ‘natural’ way to sweeten your food (fructose, of course, comes from fruit). A sustained PR and lobbying effort from the sugar industry managed to turn it all around, obscuring mountains of evidence of the awful health effects excessive amounts of sugar were having on the general public, and have become the underdog in the fight against the corn syrup industry.
There is serious scientific evidence however, that shows High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is more dangerous from a health perspective. A report in Mother Jones states:
Unlike glucose, which the body stores in various tissues for use as fuel, fructose is sent to the liver for processing. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California-San Francisco, has shown that it causes a buildup of fats there, triggering a host of health problems including diabetes, gout, and heart disease. Most worrisome, Lustig says, it can lead to insulin resistance, a hormonal snafu that makes you feel hungry even when you’re full. “The way fructose is metabolized leads you to want to eat more,” he explains.
Regardless, both cane sugar and HFCS are contributing to the global obesity epidemic. As the WaPo reports, “Overall, Americans consume too much added sugars from all sources. Estimates reveal added sugars represent 16 percent of calories (that’s an average of 300 to 400 calories) or 21 teaspoons of added sugars per day. These calories offer no nutritional value.”
But don’t worry America, you have the right to get fat from Coca Cola any way you want.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.