Just a spoonful of sugar

Calories from sugar have increased, contributing to obesity and diabetes

A spoonful of sugar may help for medicine, but does it really take eight to ten teaspoons of sugar to help drink a cola? That is how much sugar (as corn syrup) is in most soft drinks. That would not be so bad if most people stopped at just one. But in North America, we get an average of 7% of our daily calories from soft drinks [1], a number that has almost doubled since 1998, due in part to a large increase in serving sizes [3, 6].

Healthcare costs of type II diabetes are $148 billion per year

Drinking or eating too many sugary foods is directly connected to weight gain, which is linked to type II diabetes. Over 35% of our children are overweight or obese, up from 5% in 1980 [2, 9]. The total annual costs of type II diabetes are US$148 billion per year in the U.S. [4][10]. What happens if an appropriate proportion of these costs are directly allocated to the companies promoting these sugary drinks to us and our children?

Sugary soft drinks are #1 source of calories (7%), doubling in 10 years

The cost of type II diabetes is $148 billion per year, 7% of our calories come from soft drinks, and Coca-Cola has 41% market share [7]. So the cost of diabetes that can be allocated to Coke is $148 billion x 7% x 41% = $4.2 billion.

In 2008, Coca-Cola’s North American sales were $8.2 billion with net earnings of $1.6 billion [5]. Their net earnings after allocating diabetes costs are $1.6 billion minus $4.2 billion = net loss of $2.6 billion.

Sugar Detox – Coca-Cola

Cost of type II diabetes (per year) $148 billion
Soft drinks as percent of calories x 7%
Soft drink cost of diabetes $10.36 billion
Coca-Cola’s market share x 41%
Coca-Cola’s cost of diabetes $4.2 billion
Coca-Cola’s North American net earnings (2008) $1.6 billion
Coca-Cola’s net earnings (loss) after diabetes costs ($2.6) billion


Consumption of sugared soft drinks is slowly starting to decline, thanks to the availability of diet alternatives, bottled water, and market pressure to get them out of schools and other childhood environments. However, we still have a long way to go.

In the past 30 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the availability, promotion, and consumption of soft drinks, often replacing milk or water in our diets. How much healthier would we be if the ‘market cost’ of all this added sugar was internalized by our food companies and included in their financial results, giving them a financial incentive to change?

[1] Liquid Candy: How soft drinks are harming America’s health. Centre for science in the public interest. http://www.cspinet.org/liquidcandy/

  • 7% of calories of average American from soft drinks
  • Add in non-carbonated beverages brings that to 9%
  • 15 teaspoons per day to average teen boy = equal to daily recommended limit
  • Not just problem from what they add, but from what they replace (e.g. milk)
  • Sugar directly related to weight gain, which is directly related to type 2 diabetes
  • liquid_candy_final_w_new_supplement.pdf: Liquid Candy – full report

[2] Soft drinks a source of excess calories for children. Medicinal Food News. November, 2001. http://www.medicinalfoodnews.com/vol05/issue6/softdrink

  • 25% of U.S. children overweight and 11% obese
  • Soft drink consumption directly related to obesity

[3] Science update: Liquid calories. Science NetLinks? . http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/sci_update.cfm?DocID=272

  • Increase in serving size from 6-8 ounces, to 12 ounces, to 16 ounces, 64-ounce ‘big gulp’.
  • Average portion size today is twice the recommended

[4] Direct and indirect costs of diabetes in the United States. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetesarchive.net/diabetes-statistics/cost-of-diabetes-in-us.jsp

  • Medical expenditures on diabetes $174 billion in 2007
  • 32% increase since 2002

[5] Coca-Cola North America 2008 Year in review. http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/ourcompany/ar/operatinggroup-north-america.html

  • Net revenue: $8.2 billion
  • Operating income: $1.6 billion

[6] Coca-Cola North America 2008 Year in review. http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/ourcompany/ar/percapitaconsumption_north_america.html

  • Average per capita consumption (U.S.) 412 ounces, up from 275 ounces in 1998

[7] I’d like to sell the world a Coke. New York Times. May 27, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/ref/business/20070527_COKE_GRAPHIC.html #

  • Coke market share in U.S. 41%

[8] Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Obesity and Overweight: Economic Consequences, last reviewed Jan 28,, 2007 http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/Obesity/economic_consequences.htm

  • Cost breakdown of Obesity in the US according to CDC – Costs related to obese and overweight in 1998 $78.5 billion, 9.8% of total medical costs
  • 2004 obesity-attributable medical costs $75.05bil

[9] Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Obesity and Overweight:Childhood overweight and Obesity, Last reviewed Feb 2009 http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/childhood/index.htm

  • Contributing factors inc. Sugar, especially soft drinks
  • Associated health risks/consequences – 70% of a sample of 5-17 year olds had cardiovascular disease risk factors (high cholestoral, high blood pressure, abnormal glucose tolerance), less commonly Diabetes, weight-induced asthma, sleep apnea
  • Prevelence – between 1980 and 2003, age 2-5 5%->12.4%, 6-11 6.5%-17%, 12-19 5.0%-17.6%

[10]What is the difference between type I and type II diabeties http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7504.php

  • Approximately 85% of all diabetes patients have Type 2

[11] Body Mass Index to Diabetes Mellitus (type II), Hypertension and Dyslipidaemia



raw data… ?

[12] Symptoms of Diabetes and their Association with the Risk and Presence of Diabetes: Findings from the Study to Help Improve Early evaluation and management of risk factors Leading to Diabetes


[13] Prevalence of self-reported diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and associated risk factors in a national survey in the US population: SHIELD (Study to Help Improve Early evaluation and management of risk factors Leading to Diabetes)


[14] http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/277/table/T3

  • 76.3 % of respondents who had type II diabetes also reported being overweight or obese (BMI>28kg/m2).

Developed by: Douglas Frosst, June 2009


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