Big Soda alcoholic drinks worry health experts (2023)

Big Soda alcoholic drinks worry health experts (1)

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PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are entering soft drink markets, raising concern among regulators and researchers.

Originally colorless and lemon-lime flavored, Mountain Dew was used as a blender with bourbon. The term "mountain dew" is also a nickname for moonshine.Credit...Photo illustration by Mike Belleme for The New York Times

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — In a quiet corner, a plaque marks the birthplace of a beverage giant: This is where the Tri-City Beverage Corporation bottled its first case of Mountain Dew in 1954.

The soda was originally colorless and lemon flavored, and its inventors used it to mix with bourbon. "Mountain dew" is also a nickname for brandy, which farmers sometimes process from crop residues. Labels on early bottles of the soda promised it was "specially blended in the traditional hillbilly style."

It wasn't until PepsiCo bought the company in 1964 and eventually built a youth-oriented global brand marketed to extreme athletes that the soft drink left its Appalachian roots behind.

In a way, Mountain Dew came full circle last year when PepsiCo transitioned the brand to a new spirit: Hard Mountain Dew. The new 24-ounce cans will be on display at One Stop Wine and Spirits attended by East Tennessee State University students. While the drink bears little resemblance to its ancestor, its alcohol content "is exactly what Mountain Dew is," said Charles Gordon Jr., owner of Tri-City Beverage.

Hard Mtn Dew reflects a major change in the alcohol industry over the past century, which has primarily produced beverages categorized as beer, wine, or spirits. In recent years, those lines have blurred and a fourth category of ready-to-drink beverages has emerged: strong seltzer and other flavored malt beverages, wine sodas, and canned cocktails. While these products vary in key ingredients and alcohol processing, they are all generally flavored and packaged for casual consumption.

This isn't the first time a new type of alcoholic beverage has gained popularity, but some past fads have been associated with individual products like Zima, Smirnoff Ice, or Four Loko. "It's only in the last three or four years that it's really become a major category," said Nadine Sarwat, a beverage analyst at Bernstein Research.

Grand View Research estimated sales of canned Hartselters and ready-to-drink cocktails at nearly $10 billion in 2021, which it expects to see double-digit growth in the coming years. And in a major change, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola introduced alcoholic products to the US market. In February, energy drink maker Monster Beverage began introducing its first line of alcoholic beverages called The Beast Unleashed.

But as alcohol-related deaths in the United Statesreach record heights, regulators and public health experts are raising concerns that the new class of drinks and the expansion of the industry could transform the way people buy and drink alcohol. Some also expressed concern that the convenience of new products could do the opposite.long-term decrease in alcohol consumptionby youth. ANDRecent studies show that the consumption of a single alcoholic drinkper day increases a person's risk of cancer and heart disease.

Coca-Cola and Monster Beverage declined repeated requests for comment, and PepsiCo referred questions about products bearing its trademarks to the independent companies it has authorized to manufacture and market them.

Pamela Tragenstein, a researcher with the California Institute of Public Health's Alcohol Research Group, recently conducted a study of college football games. She described a sea of ​​empty White Claw Hard Seltzer cans littering the floor of a student section of a stadium.

"The carbonation and sugar content can make it look like you're not drinking alcohol," he said.


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a tempting opportunity

American drinking habits have changed over time. The popular practice of avoiding calories and carbohydrates has been eroding beer's market share for years, said Bonnie Herzog, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, which analyzes the beverage industry. At the same time, liquor companies are fighting to win back people under 30, who drink less than generations before that age. And the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated sales of wearable devices as consumers search for beverages to drink at home.

"Health and wellness, variety, convenience: that's the draw," says Ms. Herzog.

Hard Mtn Dew is an example of these trends. It is sugar and caffeine free, enhancing consumers' connection to a brand they have known for years. Although the new product contains 5% alcohol by volume, a 24-ounce can contains the equivalent of two standard drinks. Fans who tried it out early seemed to like it. "I drank Hard Mountain Dew and felt like I was looking at God."wrote one reviewer online.

Big beverage makers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo have invested heavily in the category, but the timing also presented an attractive new market for traditional soft drink makers, Herzog said. Also, according to Kevin Asato, a beverage industry consultant, manufacturers and retailers earn more per case from alcoholic beverages than from soft drinks.

In 2018, Coca-Cola entered the market with the launch of Lemon-Dou in Japan, the brand's first strong drink since the 1980s. In 2020, the company partnered with Molson Coors to produce Topo Chico Hard Seltzers and last year, Coca-Cola. Cola closed deals to produce Fresca Mixed Cocktails, Simply Spiked Lemonade and Canned Jack & Coke.

In a Feb. 14 earnings call, Coca-Cola Chief Executive James Quincey cited his "early experiments with alcohol," such as Jack & Coke, which goes on sale in California late next month, as a possibility for the company to be "a complete beverage company." company - in general".

By licensing its soft drink brands to established alcohol manufacturers for sale through existing distributors, Coca-Cola has stayed within the confines of regulatory firewalls that separate alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers. This three-tier system has shaped the alcohol industry in the United States since Prohibition was lifted and is designed to prevent a single company from vertically integrating and weeding out competitors.

By contrast, PepsiCo has attached fewer brands to new spirits (so far only Hard Mountain Dew and Lipton Hard Iced Tea), but has shown a greater willingness to upset the status quo.

The company formed a wholly owned subsidiary, Blue Cloud Distribution, to maintain greater control over sales and marketing and a larger share of profits. The venture involved hiring more than 250 employees, obtaining individual state licenses to distribute alcohol, and a fleet of trucks.


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To comply with the three-tier system, PepsiCo licensed the Mountain Dew brand to Boston Beer Co. and flavored it with Mountain Dew. In this way, PepsiCo is independent of production and can control distribution.

Not all states have passed the rule. Last spring, regulators in Kentucky and Georgia denied Blue Cloud's dealer licenses, ruling that Blue Cloud had blurred the line between manufacturer and dealer. Indiana regulators denied Blue Cloud a similar license last month.

Jeff Birnbaum, a spokesman for Blue Cloud, noted that both Hard Mtn Dew and Lipton Hard Iced Tea are manufactured and marketed by separate companies under the three-tier system.

Local beer merchants also tried to block the new competition. In October, beer wholesalers in Nevada and Virginia filed complaints with regulators, asking them to revoke Blue Cloud's licenses.

And in December, independent beer retailers appealed to federal agencies, urging the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to investigate whether retailers are giving soda makers more favorable treatment for their alcoholic products. Soft drink companies routinely pay retailers so-called placement fees for prominently displaying their products, but doing so for alcoholic beverages would violate the three-tier system, the retailers argued.

They also provided photos of what they described as an "inappropriate placement" of Hard Mtn Dew in stores displayed alongside children's juice boxes and toy cars.

Birnbaum, a spokesman for Blue Cloud, said the company doesn't tell retailers how to display their beverages, but urges them to avoid confusion between alcoholic and non-alcoholic products and correct misplacement. He also noted that Hard Mtn Dew was priced and packaged in line with other malt-based ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages and "clearly states on its label that it is intended for use by persons 21 years of age or older."

Department of Trade and Alcohol Tax Administrator Mary Ryan said her office has not received any evidence of violations. the office isaccept public commentsbefore June 7 on whether, among other things, it should review the rules to assess the independence of retailers.

Lady. Sarwat, the beverage analyst, expressed doubt that the tactics used by Blue Cloud and PepsiCo would result in the abandonment of the three-tier regulatory system, but she did not discount their influence.

"Any time Pepsi or Coca-Cola do something, you have to be vigilant, considering the size of their pockets," he said.

The health implications


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Binge drinking already kills more than 140,000 Americans each year, according to the latest estimates, far more than drug overdoses or gun deaths.

Alcohol experts are pleased with the growing number of "sober-curiousYoung people and beverage companies are trying to reach this group with a plethora of new non-alcoholic products, including zero-proof wines and non-alcoholic snacks. However, some public health experts have raised concerns that the growing variety of alcoholic beverages could reverse these trends.

The long-term effects on drinking habits will remain unknown for years, according to Matt Rossheim, an associate professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. "In public health, it's always this Whac-A-Mole game, because the industry innovates and brings things to market so quickly, and then it took us years and years to figure out what happened," he said.

The few government surveys that measure drinking patterns don't collect detailed data on new alcoholic beverages, said Marissa Esser, director of the alcohol program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

OFollow up of future investigations, which measures substance use among eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade students in the United States, will include questions about sparkling water and ready-to-drink cocktails for the first time this fall.

Because these types of drinks tend to be inexpensive, packaged in individual containers, and sold in places like gas stations and convenience stores, they are likely to appeal to young people, Rossheim suggested.

Industry executives recognized the marketing advantage that comes from well-known brands. In itan earnings conference call in November, Monster Beverage chief executive Rodney Sacks noted that products in the new range included "Medium Green", "White Haze", "Perfect Peach" and "Scary Fruit", all "based on the flavor profiles known and popular. by monsters."

And women are coveted consumers. Katherine Keyes, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, said the soda foray appears to be aimed at female drinkers, whose alcohol consumption has caught up with men in recent years. "A low-calorie, flavored alcoholic beverage was her proven approach to appealing to a female market," she said.

Still, these options shouldn't be marketed as healthy alternatives, experts say.

"The harm from alcohol doesn't come primarily from calories," said Bill Kerr, senior scientist with the Institute of Public Health's Alcohol Research Program. "They come from alcohol."


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What does drinking too much soda do to your body? ›

Drinking too much soda can increase your risk of lung issues, coronary heart disease, kidney stones and kidney disease, osteoporosis, and problems with cognitive function. The cans and bottles that soda comes in also often contain BPA. This is a chemical that can cause cancer.

What happens if you drink soda everyday? ›

Drinking soda every day can cause a lot of damage to your health because it contains so much sugar. Excessive intake can cause chronic health issues, from obesity to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart diseases. Even drinking diet soda or other sugary juices every day has negative side effects.

What is considered a heavy drinker? ›

For men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week.

How much alcohol is safe to drink daily? ›

Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults generally means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Examples of one drink include: Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters) Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)

What organ does soda affect the most? ›

Sugary drinks are the easiest and most common way to consume excessive amounts of fructose. When you consume too much, your liver becomes overloaded and turns the fructose into fat ( 12 ). Some of the fat gets shipped out as blood triglycerides, while part of it remains in your liver.

What diseases are caused by soft drinks? ›

Frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout, a type of arthritis.

What is the healthiest soda? ›

Healthy Sodas
  • Sierra Mist is often considered one of the healthiest sodas you can drink because a 12-ounce can contains 140 calories, 35 milligrams of sodium, and 37 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Seagram's Ginger Ale is a classically healthy soda. ...
  • Sprite is the Coca-Cola company's product, similar to PepsiCo's Sierra Mist.
Feb 6, 2023

What can I replace soda with? ›

Here are some alternatives you can include in your daily diet instead of sodas:
  • Sparkling Water. The closest alternative for sodas is sparkling water. ...
  • Flavored Sparkling Water. ...
  • Sparkling Water Infusions. ...
  • Freshly Squeezed Lemonade. ...
  • Kombucha. ...
  • Coconut Water.

How many sodas a day is OK to drink? ›

Although The Food and Drug Administration believe the levels of benzene found in soda have been tested and should not be a cause for alarm, many companies may not devote the time and effort to monitor the levels. Therefore, most strict recommendations indicate that you should not drink more than one can of soda a week.

What are the 3 types of alcoholic? ›

Alcohols bind with other atoms to create secondary alcohols. These secondary alcohols are the three types of alcohol that humans use every day: methanol, isopropanol, and ethanol.

What are the 4 types of drinker? ›

There are four types of drinker – which one are you?
  • Social drinking. To date, nearly all the research on drinking motives has been done on teens and young adults. ...
  • Drinking to conform. ...
  • Drinking for enhancement. ...
  • Drinking to cope.

What are signs that you are drinking too much alcohol? ›

These are some signs your body may be telling you to take your imbibing down a notch.
  • Changes in your skin. ...
  • Easy bruising. ...
  • Weight gain. ...
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss. ...
  • Tingling or a sensation of numbness. ...
  • Heartburn. ...
  • Stomach issues. ...
  • Nausea and vomiting.
Aug 22, 2022

What is the healthiest alcohol to drink? ›

However, if you are going to drink, having red wine in moderation is a healthier choice than other alcoholic drinks. This is due to its high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been linked to better heart and gut health.

What is the least harmful alcohol to drink? ›

"Clear liquors like vodka, tequila, and gin are lowest in sugar and calories and are easiest for our bodies to metabolize," Kober says.

What happens if you drink alcohol everyday for a year? ›

Long-Term Health Risks. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.

Can drinking too much soda cause liver failure? ›

Once it reaches the liver, the sugar in beverages can get converted into fat that's stored in liver cells. Over time, that can lead to fatty liver disease, which can, if it doesn't improve, cause severe scarring in the liver, also known as cirrhosis. And that can be potentially life-threatening.

How do I stop drinking soda? ›

If you want to stop drinking so much soda, it basically comes down to four steps, according to the experts:
  1. Make Up Your Mind. You have to make up your mind to give it up, notes Jacobson. ...
  2. Switch to Diet Sodas. ...
  3. Go Caffeine-Free. ...
  4. Stock Up on Alternatives.

Why do my legs hurt when I drink soda? ›

If you are not an exercise person but drink large quantities of beverages that have a diuretic effect (such as coffee, tea, alcohol or carbonated drinks) you are dehydrated. This type of self-induced dehydration can cause cramping of skeletal muscles.

Do soft drinks affect your brain? ›

The results showed how Relative to consuming less than one sugary beverage per day, higher intake of sugary beverages was associated with lower total brain volume and poorer performance on tests of episodic memory.

Why we should not drink soft drinks? ›

Soda is not good for a person's health because it contains lots of sugar. Consuming too much soda may lead to weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , most people in America consume too many added sugars, which can lead to health problems.

Are soft drinks more harmful than alcohol? ›

So, on that score, alcohol is less damaging than soft drinks. However, cocktails – which are sugary alcoholic drinks, have the same effect on your body as soft drinks. So, drink responsibly in more ways than one. It's well known that both alcohol and soft drinks can be fattening.

What soda has the most sugar? ›

Dubbed nectar of the gods by its many fans, Mountain Dew takes the crown for the soda with the most grams of sugar, according to Business Insider.

Is soda better for you than water? ›

That combo leads to a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and blood sugar imbalances. Even if you reach for a soda to help quench your thirst during a hot summer day, it won't do you justice. Sodas are actually dehydrating, meaning it has the opposite effect than a cup of water would do.

Is Gatorade better for you than soda? ›

A 20-ounce serving of Gatorade's Thirst Quencher contains 36 grams of sugar. While that's a bit less sugar per ounce than your average soda, it's not exactly healthy. In fact, Berkeley researchers say the sugar in sports drinks may be contributing to the child obesity epidemic by increasing caloric intake.

What does it mean when you crave soda? ›

Craving a can of coke or another fizzy drink? While this probably means that you are thirsty, and therefore should be reaching for a glass of water instead, a new theory suggests that there could be another reason you are yearning for a carbonated beverage – low levels of calcium.

What can I drink instead of alcohol and soda? ›

What to drink instead of alcohol
  • Soda and fresh lime. Proof that simple is still the best.
  • Berries in iced water. This summery drink will keep you refreshed and revitalised.
  • Kombucha. ...
  • Virgin bloody Mary. ...
  • Virgin Mojito. ...
  • Half soda/half cranberry juice and muddled lime. ...
  • Soda and fresh fruit. ...
  • Mocktails.

What happens to your stomach when you drink soda? ›

Acid from soda can irritate the stomach lining, and cause heartburn and acid reflux.

Does soda increase blood pressure? ›

Results: A one-serving increase in soft drink intake was associated with a 2.08 mm Hg (95% CI: 0.21, 3.94) increase in systolic blood pressure and 2.09 mm Hg (95% CI: 0.81, 3.36) increase in diastolic blood pressure over ten years.

Why does my back hurt after drinking soda? ›

A frequent cause of back pain is gas, which can be caused by excessive carbonation in your diet! Carbonation can have adverse effects on your digestive system. The gas gets stuck in your digestive system, creating pressure on the spine that can equal the pressure of an inflated football!

What is Type 2 alcoholism? ›

Type II alcoholism is associated with an early onset (i.e., before age 25) of both alcohol abuse and criminal be havior and an inability to abstain from alcohol. The most common personality characteristic of type II alcoholics is high novelty seeking. These people consume alcohol primarily to induce euphoria.

What alcohol does to your brain long-term? ›

Alcohol makes it harder for the brain areas controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment to do their jobs, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Long-term heavy drinking causes alterations in the neurons, such as reductions in their size.

What alcohol counts as alcoholism? ›

For men, consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, consuming more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week.

What do you call a person who loves to drink alcohol? ›

A bibulous person, however, is someone who likes to drink alcohol.

Why do people get angry when they drink? ›

Experts believe the reason some people become aggressive when drunk is due to the way alcohol affects the brain. Binge drinking increases the likelihood of both becoming aggressive or angry and also being on the receiving end of someone else's temper.

What alcohol does to your personality? ›

Alcohol increases irritability and decreases inhibitions. With this combination, there is a chance you could be more mean or aggressive toward others. Alcohol clouds your judgment and leads to communication problems. This is especially true if the other person is also under the influence.

How do you know if you have a problem drinker? ›

Knowing When you Have a Drinking Problem
  1. There are times when you drink more or longer than you planned to.
  2. You have not been able to cut down or stop drinking on your own, even though you have tried or you want to.
  3. You spend a lot of time drinking, being sick from drinking, or getting over the effects of drinking.

What is an alcohol belly? ›

Bloating is one of the most common effects drinking alcohol can have on the body. Most people are familiar with the term “beer belly,” the name for the stubborn fat that tends to form around your middle if you are a frequent drinker.

How much alcohol causes liver damage? ›

It is estimated that alcohol-related fatty liver disease develops in 90% of people who drink more than 40g of alcohol (or four units) per day. That's roughly the equivalent of two medium (175ml) glasses of 12% ABV wine, or less than two pints of regular strength (4% ABV) beer.

What alcohol is best for your liver? ›

So, now on to the all-important question, which alcohol is easiest on the liver? The quick answer is, none of them. The reason is that the main liver-damaging ingredient in all types of alcohol is ethanol. It doesn't matter which alcohol you chose, be it weak beer or grain alcohol.

Which alcohol has most sugar? ›

Sugar in Alcohol

Gin, rum, whiskey and vodka don't contain any added sugar. Beer doesn't have added sugar either. A 1.5-ounce shot of creme de menthe contains a whopping 21 grams of sugar. A 5-ounce glass of red or white wine contains about 1 gram of sugar, which comes from the grapes rather than from added sugar.

What is the most toxic type of alcohol? ›

The most common and well-known toxic alcohols are methanol, ethylene glycol and isopropanol. Methanol (methyl alcohol, “wood alcohol”). It is a colorless, volatile, flammable liquid that can smell like ethanol.

How many years of drinking does it take to cause damage? ›

How long do you have to drink before liver damage? People with serious liver damage have usually been drinking for 20 or more years. But complications can develop after 5 to 10 years of heavy drinking. Again, this can be highly variable between individuals and is likely genetic.

Is it ever too late to stop drinking? ›

It's never too late to stop drinking, even if you're already experiencing health problems as a result of excess alcohol consumption. The amount of alcohol required to do long-term damage is surprisingly low, so even cutting back by a few drinks a week can have a dramatic impact on your health and longevity.

What happens if you stop drinking alcohol for a year? ›

What are the results? A few months in, I experienced improved sleep, increased energy, less spiky blood sugar, better mental health, fewer bouts of anxiety. These days, I have fewer headaches and my whole digestive system, in general, feels less irritated and inflamed, with a growing sense of general wellbeing.

How much soda is too much daily? ›

But just one soda a day isn't awful…is it? Now if you're drinking an entire case in a day, that's certainly the farthest thing from healthy. But new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, says that just 12 ounces of a sugary drink each day, is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Will my stomach shrink if I stop drinking soda? ›

Are you looking for a way to lose abdominal fat? Patrick Friedli, MD, the medical director of Munson's Healthy Weight Center, may have one of the simplest ways to shed a few pounds: Eliminate sugary beverages from your diet. Yes, that means you should quit drinking pop.

Is Gatorade better than soda? ›

A 20-ounce serving of Gatorade's Thirst Quencher contains 36 grams of sugar. While that's a bit less sugar per ounce than your average soda, it's not exactly healthy. In fact, Berkeley researchers say the sugar in sports drinks may be contributing to the child obesity epidemic by increasing caloric intake.

What happens if you only drink water? ›

Although it sounds strange, a water fast could make you dehydrated. This is because roughly 20–30% of your daily water intake comes from the foods you eat ( 31 ). If you're drinking the same amount of water but not eating foods, you might not be getting enough water.

Is it good to completely stop drinking soda? ›

Your risk for heart disease drops

And quitting diet soda is heart-smart, too — one study showed that 61% of people who drank diet soda daily had a higher incidence of heart disease and stroke. Especially if you're already at risk for heart disease, stopping the soda habit is a good way to stay healthy.


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