Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Day 51 - The Ongoing Battle with Liquid Calories...

Not sure if you folks have seen this or not, but USA Today sat down for an interview with Katie Bayne, who is the president of sparkling beverages at Coca-Cola. I will post the interview below, with some of my thoughts added in.

Q: If Mayor Bloomberg were sitting across from you, what would you say to him?

A: I'd say, Mayor, we believe you're absolutely right. Obesity is a critical health challenge facing our nation. But singling out single brands or foods is not going to help the situation. Working together in a partnership will.

Me: To be honest, this interview actually starts on the right foot. Bayne is correct in saying that obesity is a much larger issue than finger-pointing just 1 product.

Q: Is there any merit to limits being placed on the size of sugary drinks folks can buy?

A: Sugary drinks can be a part of any diet as long as your calories in balance with the calories out. Our responsibility is to provide drink in all the sizes that consumers might need.

Me: This is where things start getting a bit off track. Bayne wrongfully comments that, "as long as your calories in balance with the calories out", then everything will be ok. I would like to ask her if she truly believes in that statement. Does she truly believe that the nutritional value of say 100 calories worth of Coke is the same as 100 calories of broccoli? Food is more than just calories, it is meant to be nutrition and fueling for your body, and although sugar does play a part in fueling our bodies, the levels of sugar found in soft drinks goes well beyond what most people ever need...let's move on.

Q: Is anyone at Coca-Cola trying to figure out a way to get sugar out of all drinks?

A: There is a large portion of the population that relies on the carbohydrates and energy in our regular beverages. When my son gets home from school, he needs a pick-up with calories and great taste.

Me: Way back when, beverages like Coke used to be an "energy drink". Remember, when folks had busy lives, farming, construction work, or whatever else that may entail? Unfortunately, soft drinks of all sorts, shapes and sizes have made their way into people's every day lives as just a regular beverage...or in this case, according to Bayne, a "pick-up with calories and great taste". I am never one to want to tell someone else how they should or shouldn't raise their children, but what is wrong with your son having an apple as a "pick-up with calories and great taste"?

Q: But critics call soft drinks "empty" calories.

A: A calorie is a calorie. What our drinks offer is hydration. That's essential to the human body. We offer great taste and benefits whether it's an uplift or carbohydrates or energy. We don't believe in empty calories. We believe in hydration.

Me: You are absolutely right, the body needs hydration...from water. I think if people started drinking more water and less liquid junk, then maybe water wouldn't taste as 'boring' as some people think it does now. As for the empty calories comment, as far as I'm concerned, and backed-up by Wikipedia, here is a definition of what "empty calories" means:
"Empty calories, in casual dietary terminology, are a measurement of the energy present in high-energy foods with poor nutritional profiles, with most of the energy typically coming from processed carbohydrates, fats, or ethanol. Also known as a discretionary calorie, an "empty calorie" has the same energy content as any other calorie but lacks many accompanying nutrients such as vitamins, dietary minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, or dietary fiber. Although carbohydrates, fats and water are also nutrients, they are typically ignored for this analysis, with the exception of essential fatty acids."

That sounds like the EXACT definition of soft drinks to me...but it couldn't be since Coca-Cola doesn't believe in "empty calories".

Q: Because sugary drinks have been linked with obesity, some suggest soft-drink makers place "warning" labels on cans and bottles.

A: There is no scientific evidence that connects sugary beverages to obesity. If you look at the data, you can see that during the same period obesity was rising, sugar intake from beverages was decreasing. Between 1999 and 2010, sugars from soda consumption decreased by 39%, but the percentage of obese children increased by 7%, and 13% for adults.

Me: To be honest, I will actually have to somewhat agree with Bayne on this one. Similar to the very first answer she gave, it is extremely difficult to point a finger at any single culprit in the rising obesity epidemic. Dietary studies are very hard to complete and make reliable because there are literally an infinite number of variables involved in studying one's diet.

The only way to truly prove/disprove any food or drink as being part of an illness is to hire a large group of study participants and have them eat/drink 1 product for weeks/months/years at a time. Not only that, but they would all have to live the same lifestyle, exercise the exact same amount, live in the same climate, etc., etc., etc. Since eliminating so many variables is not logistically possible, we have to base our knowledge on generalized research and studies that try and find overall trends.

Having said that, there have been trends that find those who consume not only sugary drinks, but also artificially-sweetened beverages, have higher risks for obesity and the gambit of disease that is associated with it.

Q: Shouldn't teens drink less cola and more milk and water?A: Teens should get a healthy diet through food and beverage choices throughout the day.

Me: Absolutely. But teens are not the only ones who Bayne's advice should be targeted towards. Every individual should aim to make as many healthy choices in their day to day lives. Choosing water over sugary beverages is always the better choice!

Q: How much Coke should a kid drink a day?A: We don't make recommendations on what kids should drink. But a 12-ounce can of Coke has 140 calories, the same as a lunch-box-size bag of pretzels.

Me: Here we go with the discussion of calories again, not only that, but Bayne lets on like a bag of pretzels is a healthy snack, ha! Anyways, regardless of calories, a 12-ounce can of Coke not only has 140 calories, but it also has 39g of sugar, which is just short of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Would you put 10 teaspoons of sugar in a lunch-box-size bag of pretzels and ship that off in your child's lunchbox as well?

Q: What sugary drink limits do you place on your kids?

A: My job as a parent is to guide them through the day to make the best choices. If my son has lacrosse practice for three hours, we go straight to McDonald's and buy a 32-ounce Powerade.

Me: I could be WAY off here, but I played a lot of sports growing up. I played a a fairly high-level of competitive hockey and soccer, and even went on to play Division II soccer at University. I can't ever remember a time when we had practice that would last more than 90 minutes. The odd time I could see our practices maybe reaching 2 hours, but that was the absolute most.

I am not calling this woman a liar, but 3 hours seems pretty extreme to me. Having said that, if her son actually is practicing for 3 hours, you know what? A Powerade is perfect for him. I still don't really understand why she had to throw in the McDonald's name there. Name-dropping at its finest I guess...
Q: What do you drink daily?

A: I might have a mini Diet Coke while cooking breakfast for my family. After the kids leave for school, I go for a run and then have a Powerade Zero. At work I may have a Diet Coke in the morning and in the afternoon, Gold Peak Tea. In the middle of the afternoon, I may have an 8-ounce Coke. I'd rather have that than a candy bar or cookie for a pick-me-up.

Me: More name-dropping (or should I say brand-dropping), but that isn't all that surprising. What is surprising here is the amount of crap this lady ingests...Maybe if she didn't have so much sugar in the morning, she wouldn't need even more sugar in the afternoon to balance-out her expected sugar-crash.

Q: What do you say to those who believe that sugar — particularly in soft drinks — works on the brain like an addictive substance?

A: There is no scientific evidence.

Me: Has this woman ever heard of Google?


I could keep going too...

Q: Critics say Coke is pushing sugary drinks in China and India and will cause obesity there just like here.

A: Every person in those countries is different and should be able to choose what's right for them.

Me: ....speechless

Anyways, this interview, as expected, is full of PR-type responses. Take from it what you will. Excuse me, I am going to get a glass of water and some fruit for a mid-morning pick-up.

Quote of the day:
"The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed."
~Richard Brinsley Sheridan