The Power of the Consumer has publicly denounced the criteria that Cofepris has approved, which experts consider to be risky for the health of consumers.
In this context, the nutritionist Xaviera Cabada will be evaluating various products that, paradoxically, may be bearers of a "nutritional badge" and be advertised during children's hours, despite the fact that, in several cases, they are already taxed because they are considered non-nutritional .
Coca-Cola Life (600 milliliters, 2½ glasses approximately):
The 600 milliliter bottle of Coca-Cola Life contains 27 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to 5½ teaspoons of sugar, which covers 77 to 108% of the maximum tolerated sugar for an adult for the whole day, according to the American Heart Association (AHA, for its acronym in English), as this body indicates that the maximum amount of sugar tolerated for an adult is five (women) to seven (men) coffee tablespoons for an entire day.
If a child consumes it, it would be equivalent to 135 to 180%, since the maximum tolerated intake of added sugar for boys or girls is no more than three to four teaspoons, according to the AHA.
The World Health Organization (WHO) establishes that the maximum amount of added sugar intake should not exceed 10% of the total energy requirement without exceeding the equivalent of 200 calories or 10 coffee tablespoons. Under this criteria, a single 600-milliliter bottle of Coca-Cola Life covers more than 50% of the total maximum sugar tolerated for the entire day.
Although advertising is focused on the fact that it is a "low calorie" drink - which comes from sugar - according to recognized international criteria, it really is not.
In this case, even if it is sweetened with a non-caloric sweetener, it also contains sugar and the amounts are high. They are reduced compared to the 12 teaspoons that regular Coca-Cola contains, but it does not mean that the amounts are low.
Given that increasing negative health impacts have been seen due to the high consumption of added sugars, the WHO has established an ideal consumption criterion, by reducing the intake of added sugars to no more than 5% of the total calories of the diet. In this sense, a single Coca-Cola life of 600 milliliters covers 100% of the ideal criteria established by the WHO.
All sugary drinks contain sodium. In fact, the vast majority of packaged products contain sodium.
The food and beverage industry has been seen to use sodium as an ingredient to make products more palatable.
It is also sometimes used to dilute the intensely sweet taste of the sweeteners they contain.
However, currently one of the main health problems that we observe in the population is hypertension. And high sodium intake has been associated with conditions like high blood pressure.
Coca-Cola Life indicates that it is "low sodium." In accordance with the official standard NOM-O86-SSA1994, it meets the criteria to be able to make such an indication.
But when the amounts of sodium found in all the products and foods that are consumed are added, at the end of the day they end up being amounts that are not so “low”. In Mexico, according to the National Institute of Public Health, almost twice as much sodium is ingested as is recommended by the WHO, which puts the population at risk.
Although “Coca-Cola concentrate” is not broken down, it certainly contains IV caramel, like other Coca-Cola products, which helps to obtain its characteristic dark color.
IV candy is made with ammonia and sulfides, which when heated produce supbroducts called 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole (2-MI and 4-MI), which have been shown to cause cancer. The OEHHA (Office of Environmental Health Hazard Advisory that belongs to the California Environmental Protection Agency) has classified this colorant as carcinogenic and has proposed that the maximum amount that can be ingested of these by-products should not exceed 30ug. A can of Coca-Cola contains just over 140ug, which is more than 800%.
Carbonated water, sugar, Coca-Cola concentrate (does not establish what it is made of), stevia, and sodium benzoate.
The second ingredient is sugar, which indicates that it is the most abundant ingredient in this product.
The fourth ingredient is stevia, which is a non-caloric sweetener. And it should be remembered that as has been established worldwide, non-caloric sweeteners are not recommended for children.
In addition, it has been established that non-caloric sweeteners maintain the taste for intensely sweet flavors, which does not allow a change in eating habits.
The labeling changes from red to green, and the line of its advertising is based on the fact that it is a drink with "less calories" and of "natural" origin, leading to believe that it is low in sugars, since the energy source it comes only from the sugar present.
It is observed that by itself the slogan of the campaign "uncover your nature" is not incurring the official norm or an obvious deception. However, it is led to believe that the proportions of sugars are lower, since it contains stevia as a sweetener or non-caloric sweetener.
The color of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) is green, which is why Coca-Cola based the entire campaign on the fact that the product is more natural, since it contains stevia and cane sugar.
On the side there is a small legend where the name of the product is established. There it is indicated that it is a "low calorie soft drink" accompanied by a small asterisk.
When reviewing the asterisk, another legend is observed in which it is clarified that it is "low in calories" according to a 200-milliliter serving, using NOM-086 as a reference, the portion in the nutritional information being 600 milliliters.
The official standard establishes as criteria for products that are called "low in calories" a total of less than 40 calories per serving. If the portion that is established in the nutritional information were used, which is 600 milliliters, the criterion of the official standard could not be met and therefore a smaller portion is indicated to meet that specific criterion.
To indicate that the product is "low in sodium", the 600 milliliter portion is used there again, since the official standard allows up to 140 milligrams / portion to make such a statement.
It is important to be alert to this type of strategies of the beverage industry, especially the Coca-Cola company, which is distinguished by mixing lies with truths to confuse consumers, as well as making them believe that said product is not harmful, when really if it is. Certain criteria of some standards are also used for some points and other criteria for other points. The information is skillfully manipulated in accordance with what each official standard requires, as in the example shown.
Many consumers might believe that being sweetened with a non-caloric natural sweetener, the proportion of sugar is really low or even zero, when it is really high, since it covers a large proportion or the total of the maximum tolerable added sugar of what an adult or boy or girl could consume for a whole day.
Often people are guided by the front labels. And this labeling nowhere simply warns that it is a product high in sugar and much less that this implies a health risk.
Labels should guide consumers and not mislead. It is important that the consumer is provided with accurate information. In accordance with the Official Mexican Labeling Standard and the Regulation of the Health Law on Advertising, the consumer should not be deceived, but rather the consumer must be protected from advertising deception.
Adding to the deceptions exposed, for the presentation of the sugars heading in the section of the percentage of the nutritional information it is also accompanied by a couple of asterisks.
When looking at the asterisks corresponding to the percentage of sugars there is a small legend that says "according to the recommended daily nutrients."
Added sugar is not a recommended daily nutrient and by indicating it in this way on the labeling leads the consumer to believe that added sugar is a “recommended” nutrient, when it really is not, since national and international organizations recommend reducing it by possible or even eliminate it from the diet, especially if there is already a condition associated with its high consumption.
The slogan of the campaign is "uncover your nature", the colors used are green, for the commercials images of nature, grass, flowers are used ...
The commercials are inclined towards everyday, emotional and intimate situations, such as friendship, relationship, "the first kiss" ...
One of the commercials even uses a family and a baby.
Seeing the advertisements generates a feeling of well-being and positive association with the product, since all that is presented is love, affection, “natural” situations in life ...
However, the reality is that consuming these types of products on a daily basis, during those moments of the day, represents a health risk. The association between the consumption of soft drinks and sugary drinks with conditions such as overweight, obesity and diabetes, among others, has been widely proven.
Among the main complications of these diseases are hypertension, kidney failure, blindness, diabetic foot, amputations.
5½ teaspoons of sugar is the equivalent of more than 100% of the maximum tolerated, according to international organizations.
In addition to the high amounts of sugar, Coca-Cola Life soda contains a non-caloric sweetener (stevia). Although stevia comes from a natural origin (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/Stevioside), its consumption as a non-caloric sweetener generates a taste for intensely sweet flavors.
This product contains high amounts of added sugar, plus the sweetness of the non-caloric sweetener. This continues to induce consumers to taste intensely sweet flavors and generate addiction to sugar.
It is known that the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) is sweet and can be consumed as an infusion or apply a pinch of dried leaf to sweeten coffee or tea. There are even health benefits from consuming the plant directly.
However, when it is incorporated into industrialized beverages, the plant is not incorporated but extracts of its sweeteners.
The most abundant are two: stevioside (the most abundant) and rebaudioside A (the sweetest and the most used).
In the case of stevioside, no carcinogenic effects have been seen in animal models, but the impact of rebaudioside A should be assessed, since it is converted into steviol in the gastrointestinal tract, for which it has been detected to cause toxicity, which requires higher studies to be considered safe.
It would be necessary to assess which of the two components is used in the Coca-Cola Life drink, since it is not mentioned in the list of ingredients.
Another aspect that should be assessed is the extraction method.
It has been seen that the best method of extraction of the plant is through methanol and methanol itself could involve health risks such as irritation, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, confusion, dizziness.
The most worrying thing about this product are the high amounts of sugar added to the non-caloric sweetener, inducing intensely sweet flavors, addiction to sugar and that with advertising positive affective associations are generated for the product.
Your advertising includes:
1) A family enjoying momentous moments through the years, showing the consumption of the product in everyday, familiar moments, shows a baby growing up with Coca-Cola, in very intimate and beautiful moments.
2) Your first kiss, those pleasant, innocent, adventurous moments, as a boy, a girl, an adolescent, a friendly, fraternal, paternal kiss. Then he invites you to give the soda your “first kiss”.
It is imperative that the authorities regulate this type of advertising, which is obviously misleading.
Currently, one of the main causes associated with overweight, obesity and diabetes is the high consumption of soft drinks and sugary drinks. Mexico is the country with the highest liters per capita of soft drink consumption, with an average of 163 liters per year, and Mexico is the country with the highest consumption of Coca-Cola in the world.
In addition to the obvious deceptions of Coca-Cola, the product meets sufficient criteria - within the classification of "low calorie soft drink" - to be advertised during children's hours - although it is not recommended for the consumption of children - , as well as with the characteristics to be able to carry a nutritional seal endorsing it as a “best product” —although you were not.
It is the State that must guarantee the rights of consumers, ensure the public interest and not favor private interests that affect consumers, as is currently the case with the new labeling that was recently promoted through Cofepris.
Not recommended for regular consumption, neither for adults nor for children.
The amount of sugar is high, which is associated with a higher risk of diabetes mellitus in the medium and long term
In addition to sugar, in the case of children, it contains a non-caloric sweetener not recommended for them.
Consuming sugary drinks with so much sugar is high risk, direct associations have been verified between high consumption of sugary drinks and conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
It is not worth exposing the body to receive any damage through the ingestion of these drinks, since there are totally viable and much cheaper alternatives.
Cold coffee (preferably organic and from small producers. Let us remember that Mexico is one of its main producers in the world and enjoys excellence in coffee).
If you want to add sugar, you can use muscabada sugar.
It should be considered, of course, that to prepare a 600 milliliter portion naturally, it would be difficult to incorporate 5½ teaspoons of sugar.
If what you want is to hydrate, the best option is plain water.
The Power of the Consumer