Coca-Cola Confronted by Big Problem in its Second Largest Market. For Once, Political Connections Failed. Oct 1 is the Date

Per-person consumption of soft drinks in Mexico is the highest in the world. But due to link of obesity to Covid deaths, sugary drinks now face their nemesis.

By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:

When billions of people are forced to hunker down at home for months on end, unable to visit their favorite restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theme parks or other leisure venues, they tend to drink fewer soft drinks, as the Coca-Cola Company can attest. In the second quarter, when roughly a third of the world population was put through some form of lockdown, the company’s global revenues slumped 28% year-over-year, to $7.2 billion. It was its largest drop in quarterly revenue in more than 30 years.

By contrast, in Mexico, Coca Cola’s second largest global market after the U.S., sales fell by only 5%. That relatively modest decline was caused by the slumping business at restaurants and at street food stalls, where Coke is the ubiquitous (and invariably cheapest) beverage of choice for washing down tacos, tortas, tamales and the like. Many construction and other manual workers — a key customer segment — have been temporarily laid off since the country’s semi-lockdown began. But apparently, many of those folks bought their coke at the store and drank it at home.

On a per-person basis, Mexico consumes more Coke than any other country in the world, and twice as much as the U.S.

Loving Coca-Cola (a Little Bit Less)

Mexico is also home to independent bottler Coca-Cola FEMSA, which bottles and distributes Coca-Cola and other soft drinks across vast swathes of Latin America, including half of Mexico (and also in the Philippines). Roughly one out of ten of all Coca-Cola products sold in the world is distributed by Coca-Cola FEMSA, making it the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world, after Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Business is down. In the second quarter, Coca-Cola FEMSA revenues fell 10.2%. But in Mexico, Coca Cola FEMSA’s revenues fell only 5.6%.

There’s also Arca Continental, which manufactures and distributes Coca-Cola beverages and other products in Northern and Western Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Northern Argentina, and Southwestern United States. It is the second-largest Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America. Net sales rose 2.3%. So they’re hanging on during the pandemic in Mexico.

The New Threat on the Horizon.

But for the Coca-Cola Company, and for the bottlers, fast approaching on the horizon is a threat that could exact a significant long-term toll on sales in Mexico.

That threat is the Mexican government’s junk food label law. Passed in October 2019 and scheduled to come into effect on October 1 this year, the law requires all food packages with contents high in sugar, sodium or saturated fat to carry clear health warnings on the front.

A similar labeling law was passed in Chile in 2016. The new legislation included the world’s strictest limits on how and where food companies can advertise junk food to children. It worked like a dream — and was a nightmare for the companies affected: Over the next two years, sugary drink sales plunged by 23%.

So successful was the experiment that almost a dozen countries, including Mexico, are interested in replicating it.

“The reductions we observed in sugary drink purchases were markedly greater than those seen following the implementation of standalone policies – such as a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages – elsewhere in Latin America,” said Lindsey Smith Taillie, assistant professor of nutrition at the Gillings School who led a study on the impact of the legislation.

Understandably panicked at the prospect of something similar transpiring in Mexico, a country almost seven times larger than Chile, processed food and beverage companies have mobilized their forces to try to derail, or at least postpone, the application of the labeling law. But to no avail. In every court case, the presiding judges have sided with the government.

The arrival of Covid-19, which has proven to be particularly lethal to people with three comorbidities — obesity, diabetes and hypertension — has strengthened the government’s case and resolve. In Mexico, nearly a third of all adults are obese, according to the OECD, making it the second-most obese of the 36-country group, after the U.S. Roughly a quarter of the 40,000 Mexicans registered to have died of Covid-19 were obese, according to government statistics, 37% had diabetes, 43% hypertension.

Changing Times

Going all the way back to the 1970s, the Coca-Cola Company has generally enjoyed extremely close ties with the Mexican government. At a conference on foreign investment in 2016, former president Enrique Peña Nieto proudly divulged that he drinks Coca-Cola Light every day. Vicente Fox, who served as president from 2000 to 2006, was formerly a long-time employee of the Coca-Cola company, having scaled the ranks from local salesman to president of the company’s Latin American division.

But times are changing. In a recent visit to the poverty-hit southern region of Chiapas, where more Coke is consumed than in any other state, Hugo Lopéz Gatell, the virologist leading the government’s pandemic response, likened the risks of consuming junk food to those of consuming alcohol and tobacco. He described sugary drinks as “bottled poison” and packaged cakes and crisps as “toxic food”:

“The evidence is very clear, but in previous administrations special interests have ensured that the information is concealed,” he said. “But the products that do harm, do harm; and we have to discourage their consumption so that fewer people are unhealthy.”

These comments have provoked howling protests from industry groups. One of the biggest groups, ANPRAC, thundered: “it is unheard of for a federal public official, with the great responsibility of being the health Tsar in our country, to stigmatize an industry that fully complies with all the rules and regulations.”

But the complaints appear to be falling on deaf ears in the government. For the first time in a long time in Mexico (and elsewhere), public health concerns are beginning to trump the interests of the junk-food industry. In little over two months’ time, the rules and regulations controlling that industry will change dramatically, much to the chagrin of the Coca-Cola company. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

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  162 comments for “Coca-Cola Confronted by Big Problem in its Second Largest Market. For Once, Political Connections Failed. Oct 1 is the Date

  1. Paulo says:

    Way overdue. It isn’t just the total consumption of soft drinks in Mexico, it is that the soft drink companies have different recipes for every jurisdiction. Pop in Mexico is beyond sickly sweet. Plus, everywhere I have been there are sidewalk stands of sweet baked goods for sale. The pastries are great, but…… hard on the waistline.

    Add to this the daily lower cost high carb diet people can afford, bolios, beans, corn and flour torillas, etc, the entire diet for poor folks is quite unhealthy.

    Extra sweet pop reminds me of tobacco companies loading up smokes with additional nicotine.

    • Jay says:

      I heard somewhere that when the tobacco companies first needed lobbiest and spin doctors they got them from the sugar industry.
      I am generally amazed that mainstream media does not push the idea of getting health. It’s all spacial distance, vaccine, shut down the world… It makes me think there are dark forces at play.

      • sunny129 says:

        ‘Dark forces at play’

        They have been for decades!
        Watch the documentary ‘ KING CORN’ was screened in Canada but was NOT allowed in USA! It is about Fructose/corn syrup replacing cane sugar, since 70s!

        Tobacco industry had even hired doctors claiming that Smoking is good for your health’! Watch a commercial from Ronald Reagon before he became president.

        • sierra7 says:

          The best “news” posted in many months!
          It’s about time a hard stand is taken against the “junk food industry” for peddling absolute garbage! Bravo Mexico!!
          There is a long trail of Coca Cola involvement with the authoritarian governments (backed by the US) in Latin and SA…long and sordid (That’s a long and other story)
          Now if we can just raise the global consciousness about junk food (and sugary drinks) and make it stick for a generation, there will be a guaranteed healthier one in the future! Again, Bravo!!
          Thx for a great write up Nick C.

        • Texas23 says:

          King Corn was released in 2007 and played at the Wisconsin Film Festival in April 2007. Then USA box office October of 2007.

        • nick kelly says:

          Geezer here: the old cane sugar coke tasted better. Crisper. You put a nickle in, turned the handle, the drum rotated and you pulled out a small bottle.

          I made a note the first time one coin wouldn’t buy a coke. it was 74 or 75 and it needed a quarter and a dime. This was the beginning of inflation, driven by oil that had been 1.50 or so a barrel.

          If you watch those picker shows you will see vending machines up to 50’s with the price cast into the metal.

          I guess the opposite of that is the recent supermarket riot in Argentina where the PA announced that all prices were now increased by 50%.

    • Max Power says:

      Yeah, not being Latino myself I had no idea regarding Latin Americans’ penchant for sweet baked goods until I walked into one of those Hispanic bakeries in Austin. Shelf after shelf stacked with self serve trays loaded chock full of pastries. And these weren’t tiny little confections, either. Just about every pastry could easily satisfy more than one person. And the workers could barely keep up with the throng of people cleaning up those trays. Anyway, interesting experience to check out if you are in the Southwest.

      I’ve often heard about Mexico’s battle with obesity and diabetes. The visit to the bakery was somewhat of an eye opening experience in that regard.

      • dr_doomz says:

        “I had no idea regarding Latin Americans’ penchant for sweet baked goods until I walked into one of those Hispanic bakeries in Austin.”

        Mexico has a very different food culture compared to the rest of Latin America. I don’t know why in 2020 people don’t get this. With that said, Mexican pastries are not at all like American pastries. They’re considerably less sugary, and they tend to stick with unrefined ingredients for flavor and texture. In addition, they tend to use much less preservatives, if any at all: in the case of your local Panaderia. When you bite into an American pastry, it often numbs your lips and makes you dizzy soon after from the sugar rush. Not the case with Pan Dulce.

    • raxadian says:

      You do know Coca Cola still sells a version without sugar in it, right?

      Or does that one still gets the label?

      • Tony22 says:

        Diet Coke…that one. Contains a chemical that changes to formadelhyde, embalming fluid, in the human body. Steve Jobs drank a six pack of diet coke per day. Look how he ended up.

    • Javert Chip says:

      I doubt this is a huge conspiracy to kill Mexicans with Coke products.

      My understanding from an old marlin fishing buddy (who happened to be Coke’s senior manager in Mexico at the time):

      1) Once upon a time (1920-1930?): Mexico had horrible water quality and nowhere near enough capital to build safe water infrastructure (ever been to Mexico and heard of Montezuma’s revenge?)

      2) Coke & Mexico did a deal whereby Coke got guarantees of access to water (which Coke purified) for bottling and preferential treatment from the government for distribution if Coke would deliver products (made with clean water) throughout the nation.

      Probably not a bad deal given the circumstances.

      Fast-forward to the present and sugar health concerns: Of course Coke has many US non-sugar products labeled “diet”. “Diet Coke” in Mexico is branded “Coke Lite”; Mexico’s macho culture has a huge problem with “diet” drinks (or “diet” anything).

      The bottom line here is you can lead a Mexican to (diet) water, but you can’t make him drink.

      ps: A weird distortion caused by this long-standing distribution agreement, Coke is sold at a lower price in the classic Coke bottles, but generally only to Mexicans. Tourist outlets sell Coke products only in cans, which are generally priced significantly higher.

    • RagnarD says:

      yeah, and i can’t wait to get less butter in my tub of butter, and less sugar in my 5lb sugar bag, and less hamburger meat when i buy ground beef. I mean, someone needs to make sure i don’t eat too much of this stuff, because i sure can’t.

      you know, know that we’ve solved obesity…

      if only there was a way to protect me from seeing the wrong ideas on the web….

      anyone got any ideas on that?

  2. Whatsthepoint says:

    Fatties are on the radar here in the UK, too. Even Boris admits his weight was a factor in getting COVID and now GPs will be promoting bike riding for obese patients!

  3. Petunia says:

    I wish people would stop intruding on the diets of others. It’s all liberal control mechanisms masquerading as concern. It is always the case the liberals are wrong.

    I drink a lot of diet soda because my local water is awful and probably hazardous. How do I know the water is bad? Because it leaves orange rings in the toilet and orange stains on the shower walls. At least the canned and bottled soda is sanitized before it is used. We also buy a lot of bottled water.

    I know why Mexicans drink soda. It is because their water is bad. Instead of the govt cleaning up the water, they point a finger at the soda companies, who already do a better job at providing safer water than the govt.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Good lordy. Nope, no one is intruding in anyone’s lifestyle or diet choices or making decisions for anyone. Where did you get this nonsense?

      The government is merely requiring for health warning labels to be put on these drinks. That’s all. You don’t even have to read that label. You still make your own decisions whether you want to drink 2 gallons of Coke a day or just 12 oz.

      Mexicans did just fine without Coke. They have delicious options, such as homemade agua fresca, made from boiled water and a tad of fruit for flavor, and then refrigerated. It’s nearly free. The family I stayed with did this every day. You can put it in a bottle and take it to work with you. No soft drinks needed. But it was out-marketed by Coca-Cola Company.

      Mexicans can also buy bottled water everywhere, including at all the places that sell Coke, and it can be delivered to the house too in large bottles.

      • Petunia says:


        Mexicans are neither stupid nor loose with the pesos. They are buying these drinks because they are better than the water.

        I almost died from drinking Mexican water in Cancun. I was careful to buy a bottled soft drink but overlooked the ice. I couldn’t hold food or water for days afterwards. It was a terrible experience.

        All the soda I drink is fully labeled. I don’t necessarily trust the labels, because fraud is now the standard business model, but the info is on the product.

        If anything deserves a warning label in large print, it’s tequila.

        • B.A.C.A.H. says:

          Gosh Petunia, if what you say is true, imagine the possibilities if the soda companies just sold the water that’s in their beverage cans, without all the other stuff.

        • Oscar Muller says:

          Dear Petunia:
          Tequila already has it’s warning label as any other alcohol product.
          Sadly many Mexicans ignores what Coca-Cola (or any other “sweetener refreshment” do to their health).
          And it’s not only for refreshments, it’s for any other “junk food” in Mexico like supposedly “juices”, “cakes”, etc…
          This, in my opinion, will help countries like Mexico that lacks good Health Infrastructure.

        • Yertrippin says:

          Plenty of water filtration and bottled water options in Mexico and the US. Plus the delicious menu of options Wolf outlined.

          It’s ok to say you just love soda. The real issue is companies like Nestle and Coke driving the cost of water in general up.

          Remember clean water is not a right. /s

        • njbr says:

          I lived for a couple of years in Central America about 40 years ago.

          One thing I remember is the people there saying what wimps people from the US were–the US people come down and they would be ill with various intestinal problems, whereas when the people from down there went to the US they NEVER had any problems with tolerating the US food and water.

          Although, later on in my stay, we’d go to Mexico for the high quality food and drink, and I enjoyed many a dinner from street vendors without after-percussions.

        • wkevinw says:

          Petunia- There may have been other ways for Mexican folks to get something other than sweetened soda long ago, but now Coke’s a tradition.

          At one point they used to use only sucrose (from beets and cane), but now they use a mixture. Also, there were rumors that the Mexican flavor recipe was different. I think they taste a bit different. Also, they continued to use the thick glass bottle.

          I ordered one a couple of months ago in our local taqueria. It brought back the memories from decades ago. Good memories. I also went into the Mexican market (which as always has a lunch counter) and everybody is drinking bottled Coke.

          Coca Cola Co. markets Desani water too.

          By the way, (unless you have a health issue with the sweetener), caffeine free diet coke is basically as safe as flavored mineral water. :)

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Wolf, et alia,
        While all the recent hubbub regarding the dangers of any cola may or may not be true, per Pet’s clear indication of the ”spinning” that has been going on for many many decades, IMO Coca, AKA Coke, AKA Cocaine IS, in fact, another of the wonderful substances put on earth for the ”net” BENEFIT of many many humans, similar to pot.
        THE main problem with cocaine, the original ”feel good” ingredient in Coca Cola, is that the AMA, ”The American Medical Association” realized early on that it worked well for many or most people, similar to the whole ”midwives” situation where most births did not need any ”AMA doctor” but could and did proceed to a happy delivery/birth with a local midwife who did her work for nothing other than kudos and a chicken or some eggs or whatever,,, whereas the ”AMA doctor” would charge a lot more,,, that being in the beginning at least one dollar, so the AMA made guvs get rid of the midwives, as is very clear in her story of USA…
        SO, IMHO, the very best thing WE the PEEDONs should insist upon is that ALL natural substances, cocaine, pot, opium, etc., ad infinitum be made completely ”legal” without any restrictions what so ever..
        That alone would pretty much do away with all the cartels and such, at least in every city in USA, likely through out the entire world, as there would not longer be the insane profits to be made currently in USA.
        BTW,,, most of the above was told to me by a MD , PhD person who made me promise not ever to associate her/his/they name with the information given, at least until they were dead, which they are, but I continue to honor my promise…

        • Implicit says:

          People want to control the fast or slow method that people choose to kill themselves: sugar heroine,alcohol, coke(either one), gun etc… It should be a free choice.

        • Javert Chip says:


          You forgot to mention the tinfoil lining in your hat & underwear…

      • Mike says:

        “Nope, no one is intruding in anyone’s lifestyle or diet choices or making decisions for anyone. Where did you get this nonsense? ”

        Maybe not yet with the these new labeling regulations. What’s next? Especially when the desired outcome is not achieved (lower sales and consumption of soft drinks)? We don’t have to guess. We have examples!! They will tax the soft drinks. Yes, just like what Seattle has done – they add a tax to every ounce of soft drink sold within the city limits. At stores as well as restaurants. That has produced a decrease in soft drink consumption – or at least sales within Seattle’s boundaries.

        So, yes, what Petunia is complaining about is real. We’ve seen it already. And it is coming from Liberal leaders and government organizations.

        • Petunia says:

          Philadelphia taxed soda a couple of years ago because they needed more money. The tax was huge. I saw one bill where the tax was as much as the beverage.

          They landed up making less money than before because the poor couldn’t afford the drinks, and the middle class stocked up outside the city limits.

        • Mary says:

          There’s good reason to discourage consumption of sugary soft drinks, and it has nothing to do with politics. Diabetes and obesity are epidemic in this country and we all pay the healthcare tab. Stroll through any big shopping center and notice how many chubby kids are sucking away at those big gulp softdrink cups. Those kids represent a lifetime income for the reliably profitable US healthcare industry.

      • IdahoPotato says:

        Wolf, I am no genius, but I can read. I read the article twice. I read this paragraph thrice.

        “A similar labeling law was passed in Chile in 2016. The new legislation included the world’s strictest limits on how and where food companies can advertise junk food to children. It worked like a dream — and was a nightmare for the companies affected: Over the next two years, sugary drink sales plunged by 23%.”

        I didn’t see any coercion or any rules prohibiting people from consuming what they want. No one is prevented from drinking or buying sugary drinks in Chile. If parents want to ply their kids with soda four times a day, they are still free to. Companies have restrictions of marketing junk food to CHILDREN, not to adults. What adults give their children is upto them.

        No one is prevented from drinking or buying sugary drinks in Mexico. They will have warnings on the bottle. If someone wants to go ahead and drink it, mix it with Lysol, whatever, they are free to do so.

        I travel a lot to many places with unsafe drinking water. I find a lot of choices of water and non-processed drinks that are safe and bottled. The argument that you need a soda as a water substitute is hogwash.

        What is the fuss about? Do people simply whine because they absolutely need to?

        Okay, I felt compelled to chime in reading the barrage of nonsense in response to this excellent article. Now I am outta here.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      Agree Petunia. The left and right have switched places. The right used to be Church Lady types who wanted to dictate how you lived your life. The left was the rebellious side. Today the left tells you what you can say, think and even eat. Eating a Big Mac and drinking a Coke is rebellious today.

      • leanfire_Queen says:

        So true!!! Both are insufferable, at least they have something in common!

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Just Some Random Guy,

        “Eating a Big Mac and drinking a Coke is rebellious today.”

        It’s getting pretty thick here. Eating a Big Mac and drinking a Coke is just not great for your health. But that’s your decision — both are easily available, and legal, in the US, and you’re free to gorge on them all you want. Corporate America wants you to gorge on them. The health-care industry wants you to gorge on them. The stock market wants you to gorge on them. You fit right in when you gorge on them.

        • MCH says:

          That’s called stimulating the economy. ?

          At all levels throughout a long time frame. It’s a triple win for everyone except the consumer / taxpayer.

        • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

          Gosh Wolf, maybe we should give out hugs to all the snowflakes who get triggered by a mere warning that “Eating or drinking this poisonous crapola is almost certainly bad for you.”

          In an age of a treasonous President incompetently handling a pandemic, people are actually whining about a warning?!?!

          I’m fat and ate way too much fast food and drank way too much soda growing up. But I’m sensible enough to see what the real dangers to people are (deadly incompetence from a career criminal in the Oval Office for example) vs. a reasonable, factual warning on a product. Come on people, get with reality.

        • Just Some Random Guy says:


          Moderation good sir, moderation. And again, 20-30 years ago, Big Macs and Cokes existed as well and people weren’t fat. Stop blaming things when what you really should blame is people’s actions.

        • Avg Joe says:

          OMFG, it’s a LABEL. That’s all. Not a tax, not a rule, not an intrusion. IT’S A LABEL.

        • Rudolf says:

          Right. Knowledge is power. See The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taub. Forget the stupid politics!

    • andy says:

      Petunia, orange residue is just iron; they add it to cereal for ‘well-balanced” diet. And nobody is trying to control peoples choices as long as they pay tax on sugary drinks, plastic water bottles, and bring their own reusable straw. Well, Berkley may start taxing non-vegan omnivours soon, but that’s about it.

      • Anthony A. says:

        I had iron in solution in my well water when I lived in Connecticut. As soon it entered the house via the well pump, it would come out of solution and turn sinks, tubs, etc, orange. I put in a cartridge filter system and filtered it out at the basement where the water came into the expansion tank. No more orange stains.

      • Lee says:

        “And nobody is trying to control peoples choices as long as they pay tax on sugary drinks..”

        Guess what, mate?

        By putting a tax on sommething, ie increasing its price, you can control what people do.

    • Phil says:

      I find it amusing that you’re troubled by putting water high in naturally occurring iron or manganese into your body, yet you have no trouble with caramel color, aspartame, or phosphoric acid from diet coke.

    • sierra7 says:

      Really? Really?
      Blame it on a “liberal conspiracy”……
      Holy Moley!
      Usually enjoy your comments….but this is totally around the bend.
      Yes, the water may be “bad” where you live or in Mexico…..but that’s the dark “in the background” strategy of the global water speculators for more than an century…….bad water; they must drink the sugary health debilitating liquid we can market to them…..
      The results of a sugary diet (even the “low-cal” drinks) sneaks up on most people……until it is too late…….they are then sicker than they can imagine.
      The historic tale of the soda water companies is an ugly one at best. Marketing, marketing, marketing until dead.
      Stay safe and healthy!

      • Petunia says:

        I want to eat and drink whatever I want and it’s nobody’s business. Eat whatever you please. I don’t care, why do you?

        Speaking of the ugly history of water companies. When I lived in West Palm Beach, FL there was a commissioner who owned a bottling company. He was frequently lauded in the press as a very rich guy serving “the people” for such a long time. Nobody ever connected control over the local water supply and the bottling plant as a potential conflict of interest.

    • Fat Chewer. says:

      I am sick of people redefining public health initiatives as some sort of “liberal”conspiracy. The conspiracy was to make us believe that junk food is not toxic. Get with it Petunia. I thought you were smarter than that.

      • Marc 60 says:

        @Fat Chewer

        Couldn’t agree more with all you say.
        Just imagine what would happen if more people woke up to the fact that we have been purposely poisoned with bad foods and drinks for decades all in the name of profit. Oh and not just for the profit of the food and beverage manufactures either but also for the big pharma and medical industrial complex to.
        I’m beginning to wonder just how many actually realise that most if not all of big pharma isn’t actually about curing people but just treating people as that is were the profit is.
        Sorry to say this but virtually nothing is done by big business or government for the people its all about the profits that really is all they care about not you or me.

      • Petunia says:

        Considering all the pesticides and genomes in our food, it is all junk food and toxic. I miss Twinkies and sushi sucks.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Go ‘get um’ Pet,,,
          I used to have a 10 pepsi a day habit while working manual labor, and that was after the 2 quarts of coffee starting around 0330 5 days a week.
          Then, when my bride pointed out to me that one of the ingredients in all cola was a ”taste enhancer” that was originally developed as an immune system depressant so kidney, etc., transplant recipients could adapt to their new kidney/organ, I was gradually able to go through the withdrawal.
          Wine is better in my opinion these days,,, though we do have a very good in house water filter to make the ice!!
          Of course I don’t know about everywhere, but, so far, everywhere I have lived in the last 4 or 5 decades, the ”city” water has not been drinkable due to the chlorine content…
          I really hope all here can remember that, “In beer there is strength, in wine there is wisdom, in water there is bacteria.”
          And also keep in mind what fish do in water, other than swim!

        • Erle says:

          Vintage, Calgon had an inline water filter that was loaded with silver on charcoal to remove the chlorine in the city water. The funny thing about those is they lasted about five times their advertised life.

      • Mandating all citizens buy health insurance coverage from a private corporation is liberal policy? What does it mean when you are against ACA, corporations making money, and against public health initiatives? Not like saying I want everyone to eat all the sugar they want, but it comes perilously close.

    • Chris says:

      Check into purifying your water for 9 cents a gallon.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      The iron (orange rings) and minerals in natural organic deep well water are beneficial and contribute to good health. Yes, you can avoid them with bottled water. Avoid river and lake water, you don’t know where it’s been. Sugar laden carbonated beverages and fruit drinks should be consumed as treats, like ice cream.

    • Tony22 says:

      Yes Petunia, but you can’t strip rust or grease off hardware with your orange ring tapwater.

      You can with all types of Coke. Calcium deposits in hard to reach nooks and crannies in plumbing fixtures? The phosphoric acid in Coke will clean that out quickly.

    • Khowdung Flunghi says:

      “How do I know the water is bad?” —

      Back in the late 70’s I worked for an internationally recognized environmental engineering firm specializing in water and wastewater treatment system design. One of the “issues” identified in one of the long-term strategic plans was a concern that bottled water vendors were working hard to convince people that the stuff coming out of the tap was only good for putting on plants and flushing the toilet. Sadly, that’s pretty much where we are. No idea where you are, and certainly some water systems are suspect. But in general, domestic water in the US perfectly safe even if it’s occasionally “off” color or taste. There are many people who are perfectly happy to “wave a magic wand” over it, bottle it and sell it to you for mucho dinero. I’ve seen periodic test comparisons between bottled water and municipal tap for contamination, bacteria, etc. and the you’d be shocked at the crud in bottled water. No issues with diet soda, drink lots myself but I also ingest gallons of “Pasadena’s Finest” and I’m still on the right side of the dirt. As always, follow the money!

  4. timbers says:

    A small but important health point.

    Many of the sugary drinks and processed foods use not sugar but corn syrup, which is considered much more unhealthy than actual sugar. Corn syrup forces the our bodies to use the liver to digest it, as it is alien to our metabolism. And I for one avoid anything that taxes my liver unnecessarily – like corn syrup and acetaminophen, because my liver was given to me by The Creator to used to process alcohol which I plan on consuming for a long time.

    I recommend using aspirin instead of acetaminophen. The number of deaths and liver failures due to acetaminophen each year is shocking.

    Also be aware there are efforts to get the FDA to allow corn syrup to be labeled as “sugar.” Really bad idea.

    • Chillbro says:

      There is no evidence for the claim that human body metabolizes sugar in whatever form any differently besides maybe sugar in fruits.

      • timbers says:

        True or, I said corn syrup. That’s not sugar.

        • J.Gerty says:

          Corn syrup depending upon the manufacturing process is fructose corn syrup or glucose sugar syrup. Both are sugars.

        • timbers says:

          Corn syrup is different from sugar. You’re missing the point.

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          “True or, I said corn syrup. That’s not sugar.”

          Your body breaks down sugar into glucose and fructose. Guess what corn syrup is? Glucose and fructose. It is the exact same thing as sugar as far as your body is concerned. Only difference is it’s much cheaper to produce than sugar, hence why it is so widely used.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          OK Woody guy, and I hope you still are able!!!
          IMHO, after mucho study,,, corn syrup is the devil in the form of something pretending to be a fruit or other natural form of sugar, and, as such is pretty much death and destruction in any kind of beverage or food that conceals it, as is certainly the intent…
          Eat fruit and other foods in as close to their growing state, including fresh grown, non GMO corn without concern.
          In the words of someone much younger than I who studied the current food delivery situation carefully:
          Buy foods from the farm,,, NOT from the factory!
          Actually very easy to do in any good grocery market today!
          And, in response to some earlier post on this or another thread on Wolf’s wonderful site,,, went shopping for ”beef” yesterday and found our closest ”Super Market” glowingly clean, fully stocked with all the beef choices, and in spite of my going only for their beef, the produce was beautiful, one of my fave wines discounted, etc., etc., the people very helpful,,, and everyone in masks… (probably needless to say, but, like Pet, I love to shop, so spent 10x the ”clean” beef I was ”jonesing for” .)

        • Weary Patience says:

          @Just Some Random Guy, Chillbro. Corn syrup is usually a blend of glucose and fructose. “Sugar” (Sucrose) is a molecule that your body has to break down into glucose and fructose via sucrase enzyme. If your body isn’t getting the use of the enzyme and the messages associated (the glucose and fructose are already freely available) it’s possible that could interfere with related regulatory actions in the body, no? The corn lobby is powerful… :) I believe the real issue is too much sugar (glucose,fructose,sucrose,etc) and primarily hfcs is in damn near everything these days – ketchup, cookies, bread, candy, cakes, drinks… sure, it (hfcs) is useful and convenient in some ways (easily stored and measured and blended, it acts as a preservative of sorts in breads and can enhance maillard reaction [browning]). It’s primarily cheaper to produce because of intense lobbying by the sugar (import tariffs on sugar) and or corn (agricultural subsidies) industries.

      • c1ue says:

        Yes, but the rate at which a given amount of sugar is absorbed is very different depending on setting.
        Like the difference between snorting cocaine and chewing coca leaves

      • Urbane says:

        No, all sugars and carbohydrates do not behave the same, each can cause different blood sugar concentration and duration, thus risks.

        In the blood, excess Fructose is a lot more risky than excess Glucose, because it does not trigger insulin release and does not trigger satiety to cause self-limiting of consumption, so can stick around a lot longer, at possibly at /toxic/ levels, causing longer/worse damage to the blood vessels, eyes, brain, and liver etc. Fatty liver disease can be caused by excessive Fructose consumption. Pure Fructose, in (evil) High Fructose Syrup, used in some food and drinks, is a lot worse than Fructose in fruit!

      • c_heale says:

        Fructose is processed by the liver. High fructose corn syrup has a lot of it, which is why it causes the liver to work hard. Glucose is not processed by the liver. But eating a lot of sugar (which processed foods contain in abundance, since they taste terrible without salt, sugar, and flavorings), is not good for you.

    • timbers says:

      To clarify….should have wrote high fructose corn syrup. There is evidence fructose is converted to fat more quickly for storage, requiring the liver. Other bad things to that, too.

      • Candyman says:

        Fructose is metabolized by the liver. Glucose enters through the small intestine. Glucose has a higher glycemic index, which affects your insulin levels quicker.

        • Implicit says:

          I saw a funny cartoon of the Cookie Monster slumped over in a toilet stall with a needle tangling from his arm that said “sugar” on it.

        • Urbane says:

          GI and GL are irrelevant for Fructose, because it’s not Glucose, and it not triggering insulin release and satiety, can ironically can make it more dangerous.

    • Don says:

      From a health perspective there is no difference between sugar and HFC. What makes these sweeteners dangerous is the fructose. HFC is 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Sugar is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. They are both garbage.

    • adele says:

      high fructose corn syrup is what i see on most labels..even more of a devil!

    • A friend of mine contends most beer is made using corn sugar, and that Miller is the only brand which does not. He supposes he has an allergy to corn sugar and he can tell the difference. I doubt that, but I can taste even small amounts of sulphur dioxide, and for that reason rarely drink white wine. So it is possible. He has certainly made an exhaustive study.

      • Implicit says:

        Miiler is now owned by Bud, wondering if things have changed.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Only shitty beer has ANY SUGAR/CORN SYRUP in it. Good beer doesn’t need sweeteners.

        • In the early home brew days you added a half teaspoon of corn sugar at bottling to restart the fermentation process and carbonate the brew. Some home brewers just watch their specific gravity, but that is very tricky. If you reintroduce sugar at bottling time it leaves a yeast residue in the bottle when you pour. Commercial beer is pasteurized and filtered before it is bottled to achieve clarity. Corn sugar used to be a staple for home brewers who wanted to stretch their malt, and was preferred because it did not leave a bitter after taste, like cane sugar. Beer yeasts determine the style, are very sugar specific, according to the sprouting of the barley and the roast temperature. Big brewers control all aspects of the process. Grain added as adjunct doesn’t technically add sugar, just carbohydrates for body.

      • Gandalf says:

        Folks, this business raised by the Bud Light attack ads about adding corn syrup to beer is sheer nonsense. The corn syrup is just a cheap and accelerated way to provide sugars for the beer yeast to break down into alcohol. The corn syrup has already been broken down, pre-digested, if you will, by the corn syrup producers, from the raw corn.

        Bourbon whiskey gets most of its alcohol from raw corn. It just takes a lot longer to ferment all that raw corn into alcohol.

        So it’s all about speeding up the production of cheap alcohol for cheap beer. It’s not about sweetening the taste of the beer.

        If you’ve ever drank Bud Lite or Miller, or Coors or any of that watered down industrialized American beer, you’ll know that the source of that cheap alcohol makes no difference to the final taste, compared to the much better American craft beers and imported beers

    • expati baja says:

      Actually, Coke in mexico uses sugar not corn syrup. hence it takes better than coke in the us!

    • sunny 129 says:

      ‘Corn syrup forces the our bodies to use the liver to digest it, as it is alien to our metabolism’

      Worse than cane sugar!
      Fructose is known to be metabolized differently than the other common monosaccharides. In addition to the well know lipogenic effects, more recent evidence has shown that the acute changes in hormones and metabolic parameters that control appetite and energy regulation when with fructose consumption may promote caloric overconsumption and, in the long-term, weight gain.

      Watch the documentary KING CORN!

    • Gandalf says:

      Acetaminophen only causes liver failure if used used with high alcohol consumption

      Aspirin is not 100% safe either. It can cause Reye Syndrome in children, to an extent that it is now contraindicated for use in children (which is why you don’t find “baby aspirin“ on sale any more)

      Aspirin also causes gastritis and GI bleeding. Alcohol makes that worse. Aspirin’s anti-platelet properties makes bleeding anywhere worse

  5. caticorn says:

    Any drop in the demand for ‘junk food’ is a welcome change. I hope we will also see a drop in demand for wasteful plastic consumer products as well. It may hurt companies now. Yet, if they can pivot to healthy options and more sustainable products, rather than single use plastics, etc., it will be a win-win for manufacturer, seller and consumer in the long run.

    • Zantetsu says:

      The ignorant in America will willfully resist it though as a trampling of their rights to make stupid decisions.

      • sunny129 says:


        Look their responses to limit the spread of Covid 19, in some of the southern states.

        Guess , American exceptionalism!?

        • Javert Chip says:


          So, you prefer the “New York” (ie: not Southern) model of killing assisted living residents?

      • sierra7 says:

        The word “choice” always has to real it’s ugly head into these kinds of articles/comments.
        Total distortion!
        Go ahead. Make the “choice” to destroy your body, but don’t expect me to pay for your healthcare when that happens….(and, I’m an insane radical when it comes to single payer health care for our country)
        The advertising industry has been strangling this country (and other parts of the world) for a hundred years. And, these giant junk food industries love it!
        Make better “choices” for your neighbors’ sake!
        Stay safe and healthy!

  6. J.Gerty says:

    I wonder what Warren is going to do?

  7. Brant Lee says:

    What? The corporate power lost? I’m not sure, but I believe Cane sugar is still used to sweeten Coca Cola in Mexico. It’s sold in the U.S. in the old fashioned glass bottles at the supermarkets.
    In the states, High-fructose corn syrup replaced Cane sugar in soft drinks about 1983, and man did the butts widen with that stuff. It’s not good for the body at all. And the companies have still managed to keep soft drinks food stamp eligible. Drink up poor America.

    • Anthony A. says:

      HFCS is put in most (if not all) “processed” food and drink products. Read the labels and see! Probably the main ingredient in what made the U.S. population obese. It makes things taste good!

      “Here honey, have a bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast!”

      • El Katz says:

        There are plenty of food choices available to the informed consumer that do not contain high fructose corn syrup. The stuff can be found in about everything – ketchup, pickle relish, baked beans, on down the line. We actively shop for products that do not include it. We have avoided the stuff like the plague for decades on the advice of a friend who, back in the early 1980’s, was a biochemist with Corn Products Corporation (now known as Ingredion) in Summit-Argo, IL. He studied the effects of high fructose corn syrup on living organisms in their labs and resigned in disgust when the company ignored the harm it did.

        He’s now a farmer in Iowa and has been for decades.

        • sunny129 says:

          All covered in the documentary ‘ KING CORN”

          ‘ informed consumer’

          How many even attempt to get properly informed?

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          READ THE LABELS! Try buying a bottle of barbecue sauce without fructose; possible but very difficult. Fructose is everywhere now and it taxes your liver.

      • Implicit says:

        Magically Delicious!: The Irish just don’t seem to give a shatner about the crazy leprechaun. Aunt Jimima hit a different chord with people of color. Don’t have an opinion either way :>{)

    • NO HFCS says:

      Very true. And many do not realize that breads are also sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I cannot eat at most fast food restaurants because the buns have it and my body can’t take it.

      Thankfully, In n Out buns are free of it and I can enjoy eating there occasionally with my teens.

      I do miss having an Arby’s roast beef sandwich from time to time. But they have HFCS in the buns and of course the Arby’s sauce. If I ate it, I would be doubled over in pain and running for the bathroom.

      Coke from Mexico with sugar, while unhealthy, doesn’t present a problem.

  8. Just Some Random Guy says:

    When I was growing up in the 80s, every kid drank soda. And also in the 80s there was no such think as child obesity. A “fat” kid in the 80s would be considered average today. The difference was after downing a Coke, we’d go outside and run around for an hour burning all those calories. Today that same kid downs a Coke and spends the next hour on their ipad or Xbox

    But sure let’s blame Coke, easier than blaming poor parenting or society in general.

    • sunny129 says:

      Cane sugar in COKE was slowly replaced with FRUCTOSE/CORN syrup. B/c it is much cheaper than sugar. body metabolizes that different than simple glucose.
      Watch ‘KING CORN” – NOT allowed to be screened in USA b/c Food industry campaign!

      • c1ue says:

        I saw it.
        Not very convincing that the difference is hfcs vs just taking in a lot of sugar period from everything.
        If you look at the ingredient lists for everything you eat, it is quite clear that sugar and/or hfcs is added into everything.

        • sunny129 says:

          HTFC is a lot cheaper than cane sugar. Did you see the chart shown on the documentary? Apparently NOT!
          Sugar consumption went down as the HFTC went up dramatically!

    • Fat Chewer. says:

      Poor parenting. BS. I was a kid in the 80s too. Yes agree with most of what you said but I think you conveniently forgot what we did in our teens in the 90s. All night gaming sessions powered by coke. No parent was ever going to stop us playing our favorite games all night. Especially while they were asleep.

      • Just Some Random Guy says:

        I guess we lived in different worlds as teens in the 90s, since I can honestly say my lifetime number of all night gaming sessions is zero. Other than a Wii which I had in my 20s (I think, maybe 30s), I’ve never really played video games.

  9. BuySome says:

    Anyone see The Poison Squad, on PBS’s American Experience, and the ugly fight with Coca-Cola? The overconsumption of the product has been around all along, but I would say the big shift up from the old 6 ounce bottle to 6.5, 7, etc. was very bad for everyone (and it wasn’t just Coke involved), even though it looked better in the pocketbook. And therein is the story of corporate business…can’t leave a good thing alone, always got to screw it all up by messing with the original!

    • JoAnn Leichliter says:

      Pepsi Cola introduced the larger bottle size and had a catchy little jingle to help promote it. I am old enough to remember.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Pepsi jingle was, ” Twice as much for a nickel too, Pepsi Cola is the one for you.” Coke bottle was 5 ounces, cost a nickle, obviously, and was available and prevalent everywhere.
        With a little practice, and very little hands, I saw that one could pull a coke out of either their ”vertical” machines, or any of the other generic ”horizontal cooler” types in the early fifties, similar to the cigarette machines that some kids could fit their small hands into and pull out a pack very easily, and thus be the fave ”guy” of the local gang/group…
        Not saying anything about who that might have been, but my sis and I were total ”addicts” of both coke and cigs by about ’51….
        And, to be sure, I would totally vote for anyone who would promise to get rid of ALL the fascist rules about all ”natural” substances and also all similarly fascist rules and regulations stopping kids from working as I did, first selling papers in the streets at 7 and then delivering papers at 11 (earliest age allowed then) and mowing lawns, selling fish I caught,,, maintaining properties, etc., etc., before I was 12…
        USA just a bunch of wimps these days,,, and everyone needs to understand that WE the PEEDONs are paying for that now, and will continue to pay for it going forward and most likely in even worse ways that are not even seen yet…
        May God, AKA The Great Spirits Bless us ALL!

        • Implicit says:

          HahaI remember all that, and I also had a papr route when I was 12 and 13
          In Inia when the US said they had to stop letting the kids work, families went hungary cause of the poverty level.
          The ying and yang of every decision

        • Anthony A. says:

          When I was 14 in 1957, we lived in a housing project and I had the paper route for 200+ apartments. Did it in the snow tying two sleds together. I wasn’t a fat kid…..

      • BuySome says:

        The party bottle size was around, but the individual servings were creeping up. Pepsi, 7-up, Dr. Pepper and lots of local colas too. And then RC Cola really went to town upping the juice in the ’60’s. That’s how the race went ballistic from then on.

  10. Whatsthepoint says:

    It’s not just the high fructose corn syrup but the phosphorus in sodas leads to osteoporosis- it leeches calcium from the body, so another reason to avoid soft drinks altogether

    • sunny129 says:

      Leading to Metabolic syndrome ( Syndrome X)- especially DIET sodas!
      Well known and on record!

  11. Anthony says:

    Vending machine business owner here. Have you guys all forgotten about the sugar tax? Higher excise taxes is supposed to discourage people from drinking less soda. I guess the proof is in the pudding…when you have an excise tax on a good poor people will keep buying it which makes them even poorer. Having govt intervention (playing doctor) just creates more inflation problems. We all know that.

    My soda sales are down because of the pandemic…but Coca Cola has a loyal customer base. A lot of people need that “pick me up” in the middle of the day. Funny you mention it… when I place my wholesale order with Coca Cola, they have it down to a science of which demographic/culture of people like what flavors of soda. They also have the science down to what age group prefers what flavors.

    Let’s be honest…diabetes isn’t from strictly soda. Sorry if I sound biased but there also needs to be a level of self accountability of what a person puts in their body. Even if you got rid of soda….Americans overeat…plain and simple. Should we all sue Mcdonalds because they force us to drive to their restaurant to buy their product? I’ve done research….a McDonalds meal is way more expensive than a head of lettuce to make a salad. I think Americans just overeat and they’re lazy. They blame their problems on someone else or make excuses about their obesity. Watch the movie Wall-E

    • James R Chaillet, Jr. , MD says:

      Good points. To sum it up our, the American culture, is dominated by the omnipresence of cheap high calorie foods and drinks and and an ever-growing number of ways of avoiding exercise. Hey, you don’t even have to go to the grocery store and wander the aisles to buy food. Just hit a speed dial number on your cell phone.

      Wonder if more people will take the stairs will the paralyzing fear of being in an elevator with another person, who might be harboring the corona virus.

      • sunny129 says:

        A soda water with corn syrup has more ‘marketing power’ (with enchanting sexy ads) to over come the needed ‘common sense’ about nutrition in America. Tragic but true

        • El Katz says:

          All one needs to do is refer to the multiple versions of the “Food Pyramid” recommended by the USDA to see how this all came to pass. The “base” of the pyramid was carbohydrates…. and protein was “bad”. And, OMG… don’t eat any “fats”.

          You wonder who paid the USDA to publish that malarky?

        • sunny 129 says:

          USDA is captive to Food industry, just like FAA to Aviation industry including BA!

  12. James says:

    You know whats overdue? Personal Responsibility. Seriously how can you not tell that high corn fructose syrop combined with 36 grams of sugar is bad for you? 36 grams is what 8 teaspoons of sugar? You can’t figure that out?

    As Nixon would say, “My God.”

  13. Cobalt Programmer says:

    1. Obesity is a drain on the medical expenses by the government and families. Fight against obesity will have huge pay off in the government funded medicare programs.
    2. Like others mentioned, sugar and food companies have a strong lobby far more superior to the tobacco companies. Research in to the bad effects of food is often discouraged. Researchers who dig in to the food companies will often get blacklisted for grants from private companies.
    3. US dropped bombs on Japan. Japan sent the high fructose corn syrup technology to USA. who is the loser now? Its very easy to stay thin in Japan and other asian countries.
    4. The worst case scenario is higher levels of obesity in teenagers and younger generations. Put the phone down and run ten laps around the block.
    5. Lard, tallow and animal fat were used for cooking until 1900s. Big food companies blamed dietary fat as the cause of cardiovascular disorders. They introduced soybean oil, cotton seed oil, rice bran oil and vegetable oil which were seldom used in cooking. There is a conspiracy theory behind this. Back in 1960s soybean oil and cotton seed oil are waste products in seed processing companies. They have to dump it in large quantities. Hey! why dont you hire some Experts and say soybean oil is the best oil? Cotton seed oil was never used for cooking. Genetic modification in cotton and soy might affect humans?
    5. Sugar was the problem in heart diseases. Salt was often blamed but salt content in food is several times low because refrigeration is now used to preserve foods.
    6. Another unproved point. Low testosterone in men is often blamed on lack of cholesterol and fat in diet. T is made by body from fats. Middle aged men are taking lower fats and large amount of statins which again inhibit cholesterol synthesis? Its not a coincidence Statins and viagra are the popular drugs sold by pfizer. Eat some bacon and protect your ding-dong.
    6. Any fight against big Ag and food companies will be ten times tougher than tobacco. Good luck with that.

    • JoAnn Leichliter says:

      Interestingly, the body readily burns consumed fat for energy but tends to store vonsumed sugar as–fat.

      • Implicit says:

        The ubiquitously tested with the highest probability of longer life is eating less.
        What you eat less of makes a difference too.
        Fasting once in a while is probably good also.
        H2O is the universal cleanser

      • Cobalt Programmer says:

        Insulin is the key.

        1. When you eat fat without sugar, there will no insulin response. Body uses fats for the energy and other activities. This is usually happens in a keto diet to reduce body-weight
        2. Sugar+fat+protein is a deadly combo. Insulin spikes, stops fat lysis and starts building muscles and fat. Usually athletes who like to gain weight and preserve their body-weight uses this mechanism.
        3. Keyboard warriors will gain weight with sugar.

    • Tony22 says:

      As a positive step toward Medicare for All, perhaps the government and or insurance companies can refuse to cover, or charge more to people who deliberately damage their bodies.
      Nicotine in your sysem? HFCS? Obese?
      You pay more, or, go to the back of the line for care and transplants.

      I’m tire of subsidizing slobs who smoke nicotine or marijuana or drink heavily, as well as people who get hooked on recreational drugs. If people are too stupid to know that these things are addictive, damaging and dangerous, then maybe it’s better for society that they die early before passing on their genes.

  14. andy says:

    Soft drinks bad. Hard drinks bad. Caffeine in tea raises blood pressure. Boiled water lacks minerals. But there is always Gatorade for active life style and excersize. Oh wait, that’s also Coca-Cola.

  15. c1ue says:

    I don’t about Mexico, but the diet Coke I buy has significantly increased in price.
    Part of it may be the aluminum can shortage, but the price increases started long before COVID-19.
    The undiscounted price for a 12-pack/12 oz cans of Coke is $8.99 in SF!

    • El Katz says:

      I don’t care what the “retail price” of Diet Coke is…. they were still selling it for 4 -12 packs for $10.99 at our local Kroger affiliate as of last Thursday.

      Allegedly, one of the ingredients that goes into the diet sodas (Coke Zero is my poison of choice) comes from China and is in short supply due to the tit-for-tat trade war. The aluminum can shortage isn’t helping, which – by itself – is causing Coca Cola to produce less of their “less popular” soft drinks in favor of their volume brands. The same Kroger – referenced above – had posted a sign to that effect that I viewed on my last shopping expedition. That might be having an effect on their revenue as it’s incremental business.

      • c1ue says:

        Saw prices are meaningless as they can be loss leaders.
        It does seem that the sales are less frequent now also.
        For that matter, even in SF, sales can be “buy 2 get 3 free”.
        Even at $8.99 retail, that comes out comparable to your sale example.
        As for the sweetener: possible but that doesn’t explain why all the cola brands are priced the same and higher, including all the sugar ones.

        • El Katz says:

          The price disparity might be designed to help the “single serving” retailers (such as convenience stores) and gouge the non-frequent buyer?

          It can also snag the dummy (like I have done from time to time) that doesn’t read the entire “gotcha” ad (6 pack of 20 oz bottles $2.49 with $25 grocery purchase) and ends up paying full price……

          Grocery shopping is a game….. it’s no longer stopping by the store to pick up a few random items as you usually pay more for less if that’s your purchasing habit. I prefer the Sprout’s stores as they are less inclined to do hard to decipher promotions. Buy one get one isn’t that hard to comprehend.

  16. MCH says:

    I think having the labeling is a necessity from a public health stand point. But technically one could say that about most boxed food if one considers the ingredients, soft drinks are some of the worst offenders.

    But it’s not an outright ban, which still gives people a choice. I would note that in spite the outright labeling requirements on tobacco, smoking is still occurring, albeit this is a declining trend. This isn’t necessarily bad for anyone, industries do die with time. After all, don’t really see many horse drawn carriage makers today.

    What is an annoyance though is government artificially tipping the balance by slapping soda tax and such on these. In the end, it comes back down to education again, sufficiently educated population would make better choices. But then,the problem is that these sufficiently educated population would likely remove our current leaders today.

    • BuySome says:

      In the 1970’s it became the rage in Economics to promote the idea that taxes and fees were a better alternative to using outright regulation. Sure, give the government more easy access to money and watch what happens next. They did not hang tobacco executives for murder, did they? No, they got their settlements and then jacked up taxes which gave yet an excuse for producers and retailers to jack up prices each time so everybody got richer. Had nothing to do with with any of the danger in the way tobacco was cured…just all about the money which went to every little sh*t on the totem pole of baconomics. They’ll pull this same lying garbage on anything they can…declare it bad, get 51% who don’t use it to support a fee, and bang! It’s the Chocolate Donut Tax. What’s next.

      • MCH says:

        A quick aside, on highway 101 from SF to San Jose, they are going to put in metered HOV lanes or something like that to fight traffic congestion last year.

        Not sure how much more that is happening now due to C19, but last year, I heard about some of the fees for those lanes, I though one proposal had run something like $2.50 per mile from SFO down to Mountain View where google is. Don’t quote me on the numbers, but it was something noticeable.

        It was billed as a progressive structure. I thought it was hilarious that even in public transportation infrastructure we are starting to distinguish income inequality. Pity the working guy who has to be stuck in traffic if he had to go from one end of the valley to the airport or somewhere in between when things go back to normal.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          It’s about money. Don’t have an electronic EZ-pass with a significant unused balance? Pay double the tolls when you pay in cash.

    • MarMar says:

      On the flip side, those sodas are “artificially” cheap due to the massive subsidies for corn, etc. So it’s not as if things were necessarily “balanced” to begin with.

      • MCH says:

        Thank you, that’s an aspect I hadn’t thought about. The downstream supply chain does get a huge benefit here.

        So there is element of regional
        Governments fighting each other as well at play here.

  17. Me Them says:


    The rapid rise in obesity in Mexico has come in lockstep with the switch to High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as a sweetener and additive in all foods, not just Coke and soda.

    I live in Mexico. I knew from America that the switch to HFCS would cause obesity rates to skyrocket in Mexico as they did in America. As the switch in Mexico to HFCS commenced in 2012, that’s exactly what happened. NOTHING else has changed here. THE only change was the food processors adding HFCS to everything.

    Let me say it again: Nothing in the way of diet has changed here, only the adding of HFCS to everything. I have seen, predicted, even, a direct correlation in Mexico with HFCS and obesity.

    Also: HFCS is laden with poisonous mercury. The cheaper the source of HFCS to a processor the higher the level of mercury.

    • sunny129 says:

      Initially Mexican MAZE was high protein but genetically modified into MORE carbohydrates!
      Well documented and more in the docu ‘ KING CORN”. How the Food/Soda industry has captivated regulatory agencies and marketing towards HFTC!

    • Paul says:

      I suspect the correlation of obesity to reduced poverty is much higher than the correlation to HFCS, bearing in mind that there is a 5 year plus lag in the obesity data.

    • Paul says:

      A temporal correlation does not confirm a causal relationship.

  18. MonkeyBusiness says:

    I already said before, there will be some positive things coming out of this Covid crisis.

    • sunny129 says:

      Consumption culture will be challenged, with it the Economy based on 70% consumers! Long overdue!

  19. taxpayer says:

    “In Mexico, nearly a third of all adults are obese, according to the OECD, … Roughly a quarter of the 40,000 Mexicans registered to have died of Covid-19 were obese…”
    Then it seems maybe obesity helps prevent death from Covid-19. Or maybe some of the statistics are screwy.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      There are plenty of people of who have more than one of these conditions listed in the rest of the sentence that you didn’t quote. These conditions are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they often occur together.

    • “”Having a BMI of 30 or higher increases a person’s risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 by 27%,” Dr. Stephens says. “And a BMI of 40 or higher doubles a person’s risk.” A BMI of 30 for a person six feet tall is 221 lbs. AMA standards on a lot of things like weight and blood pressure have been ratcheted down the last few years. If a thirty year old me went to the MD they would put me on BP meds and tell me to watch my weight. I have always been thin, I tried weight lifting as a teenager, and nothing happened. Obesity isn’t just that a problem for the guy who obviously has a round shape.

  20. breamrod says:

    I knew one of the Glean family members who started the first coca cola bottling co. He swore on good evidence that the little cokes in the bottles had a slightly different formula than the other cokes. All I know as a native Atlantan is that coke went to S___t after they they introduced HFCS.

  21. Michael Storch says:

    You write: “… But due to link of obesity to Covid deaths …”

    Thank you for stating this so plainly.

    From most news reports, you would think that obesity is merely a secondary consequence or side-effect of the heart disease and diabetes that are the most-cited “underlying conditions” and “co-morbidities” of Covid-19.

    Instead, of course, it is obesity that is the common (perhaps even primary) risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and death from Covid-19.

    If that is fat-shaming, I will live with the guilt.

    • Josap says:

      At 106lbs I was nowhere near obese when I had a heart attack. Two blocked arteries. The year before I had gone on a 250 mile hike in Spain.

      All the Drs could figure was genetics as my dad had passed away from a heart attack at the same age. He wasn’t obese either.

  22. MiTurn says:

    I read the article, but the comments were riveting. Talk about emotional investment! Very fun.

    Way to go, Nick, you know how to stir the pot. That aside, I do look forward to your articles and I’m glad that you’re on Wolf Street.

  23. gorbachev says:

    Transparency.Just makes the big boy’s cry.

  24. Paul says:

    If a third of adults are obese but only 25% of those who have died of Covid were obese, that indicates a negative correlation, i.e. obesity protects people from the virus. The missing link, however, is most likely that nearly all the deaths were elderly people, and rampant obesity is a relatively new phenomenon, so few of the elderly are obese, but much more than a third of young adults are.

  25. Lee says:

    Wow – lots of comments.

    1. So first speaking of Mexico, I went to grad school in Mexico many, many years ago and at that time the water was quite bad. I remember that there was a drought and as a result there were a lot of cattle dying and ending up in the water supply reservoirs…………notices on the news to boil the water before you drink it.

    What I did to avoid getting sick from ‘the water’ was to drink a little bit every day for the first couple of weeks and then increase the amount over time.

    I never got ‘the revenge’ from the water, but got sick from eating some shrimp from a beach vendor in Manzannillio near Las Hadas.

    Did I mention beer was cheap and good too.

    2. Coke tastes very different in different places. Coke in Mexico – can’t remember the taste (Too much beer, perhaps?). As stated above it must be the use of cane sugar versus other crap.

    The stuff in Australia now has a sickly sweet taste and lacks the familiar strong taste from years ago – IIRC they changed over to some of that HFC crap recently.

    Japan had/has decent Coke and Hawai’i was pretty good. Coke in the Caribbean islands was good too. Don’t know about other than Japan now as I haven’t been there for years.

    3. And as far as ‘fat’ people are concerned, we have that problem here in Oz too – big time. Until recently people didn’t do much exercise. Lot’s of fat people all over. Since the ‘lockdown’ we seen more people walking around, but overall people here are just lazy when it comes to exercise and physical activity.

    I’m back to walking around 50 minutes in the morning and then another walk at night – about 20 – 30 minutes. The morning walk with the mask on and the lung conditions make it tough, but I enjoy being able to do that again. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll be back to normal.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      I wish you a complete recovery asap. This is some nasty crap that’s going around. Glad you made it through.

      • Lee says:


        Hopefully the better half and I will be able to get through the next couple of months without any problems. It is unreal how long it is taking me to get better.

        Here in Melbourne we had another record day of cases. A total of 532 with 6 more dead.

        Compared to the huge number of cases in other countries, it doesn’t seeem bad, but the entire mess this time has been caused by the state government and its policies that allowed the virus out into the community from hotel quarantine. The state’s trace and trace program has totally failed too.

        The entire first lockdown has now been turned into a total waste and the current lockdown isn’t doing much to stop the spread as it isn’t targeting the cause of the spread and the hotspots, but rather the entire population.

        Masks should have been mandated sooner, but we were ‘told’ that they didn’t do any good. However, wearing a mask on a deserted street while walking at 10:30 at night is basically useless.

        What is even worse now is that most of the deaths are in aged care. Five of the six dead this time. Just like in other countries around the world.

  26. Josap says:

    Living in Az we can get Coke from the US or Mex any time. The Coke from Mex tastes better. It has a crisper taste, to me.

  27. BuySome says:

    The only thing really missing in Coke is that good old Bacardi 151! Now put down those darn car keys.

  28. cd says:

    Mexican soda’s – CV19 buddies…

    Gold flying…S plunging….

    this is good spot to short gold going into opex and fed meeting…

    lots of talk, Monthly cup in play, handle now…London opening will be the tell

  29. Jon says:

    Whole food plant-based eaters (vegans) were the ONLY group that fell within the normal BMI range out of 8 groups studied. (Science backed peer reviewed study).

    Processed food is terrible for you. Animal flesh (meat) is suboptimal for you. Plant based is the future.

  30. CRV says:

    The article says: a third of mexicans is obese.
    Also: a quarter of COVID19 deaths were obese.
    How come the conclusion is that obese people have a higher probabilty to dy by COVID19? The numbers say a different thing in this case.
    Either the numbers are wrong, or the conclusion.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Read the whole sentence including the other comorbidities… they’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, they often occur simultaneously in the same person. So don’t take those three and think they equate to 100%.

  31. doug says:

    whew. this is not a health blog, and wow is that obvious. I often find the economics comments enlightening. Many of these comments were depressing in their ignorance.
    Good luck to all.

  32. Island teal says:

    Morning….back to Mexico.
    After many surf trips to Baja Mx in the 60’s and 70’s and consuming mas beer and pastries there were no complaints about the water. We also knew better and did not use local ice ??
    On another note…hope everyone has some Ag and Au. ???

    • Lee says:

      You remember those street vendors selling cooled down cans of soda out of old oil barrels with the tops cut off and filled with ice along the roads?

      Lots of ‘gringos’ would stop and buy drinks from these vendors and then later some of them would be puking their guts out and be sitting on the toilet for hours.

      The ice for those barrels was ‘delivered’ by throwing it on the ground in front of the barrel. It was then chopped up inot pieces on the ground so all those nifty things from the road made it into the ice and water.

      They never cleaned the cans off before drinking from and you know the result

    • cd says:

      ahh, an old timer…….Never made it to Scorpion Bay but most other breaks I have surfed there since the 70’s, our family was one of first Americans on the hwy 1 when it opened….Spent a lot of time in Sea of Cortez diving pristine seamounts with everything in the ocean within reach…….

      Baja was beautiful back then…

      Vagabundos Del Mar! I did get sick one time and it was eating a tomato with my lobster dinner at some place in Loreto….. it was bad…..had to come home, 106 degree temp…..was a 10 yr old

  33. Mira says:

    “But due to link of obesity to COVID-19 death”
    Really ?/!

    I am a tough guy.
    I drink Coca Cola for breakfast !!

    SUGAR is our worst enemy .. Oh God !! Oh God !! Oh God !!
    AND … don’t you just love how .. the slim diet pill addicted Main Stream Media .. tell us how bad for our health it is to be OBESE.
    How they look down their noses at us OBESE .. “persons” in disgust.


    As they verbally abuse us .. yes that’s what it is .. they are getting their rocks off .. up their on their diet pill addicted high horse & intimidating us & verbally abusing us.

    Did you know ..
    That today we have discovered that PROTEIN is bad for us ??
    According to “THEM” there really isn’t anything on planet earth that is “SAFE” / not harmful .. for us ordinary people to eat.

    • Mira says:

      No .. I do not believe that SUGAR is the beginning & end of all ills mans on planet earth.
      Yes .. I do believe that “THEY” grab the first & most enjoyable “THING” & proceed to persecute us with it.

      COFFEE is a natural product.
      It is a stimulant.
      “Oh my Lord .. I drink 6 cups of COFFEE a day .. I am ADDICTED”

      For all those persons who drink too much coffee per day ..
      Try VITAMIN B 5 pills .. PANTOTHENIC ACID /Vitamin B 5

      After 1 pill .. maybe 2 pills
      You will still like coffee
      You will make yourself a cup of coffee & not get around to drinking it ..
      Why is that ??
      Because you are not ADDICTED to coffee
      You have a Vitamin B5 deficiency
      Vitamin B5 supports your immune system ..
      Yes your immune system is under stress .. this could be due to a heavy day at work .. the kids .. shopping .. bills .. mortgage & the fact that the car will not start .. not enough sex .. shipping meals .. & the list goes on & on.

      Let’s Get Well by Adelle Davis.
      I took potassium supplements & stopped eating chocolate.

  34. Xaver says:

    Great article! Here in Germany politicians are trying to postpone a stricter labeling law. Now, after they can’t avoid it any longer, they try to dilute it.

    Chile is leading? That’s nice.

  35. A says:

    “Propoganda” is such a dirty word. It was something those dirty commies used to convince people they were happy with their awful lives.

    “Advertising” is good clean fun that helps to run the free world economy! It doesn’t hurt anything!

    :) :) :)

    If companies want to to sell junk food to children or buy lawmakers and regulators, then that’s their God-given right.

    It’s your CHOICE if you’re influenced by advertising. Not like those dirty propaganda campaigns by Nazis, Commies, and their ilk. Sure, they worked on the brainwashed and weakminded, but WE, the FREE WORLD, have the RIGHT to be advertised to.

    If big companies want to buy up water rights and regulators and brainwash–sorry, ADVERTISE–to people endlessly all over the world from birth, twist all data and lobby against any discussion of health risks, while continuing to “tweak” formulas to make their products cheaper and/or more addictive (no matter the consumer outcome), then that’s just BUSINESS, buddy.

    Here, in the Free World, we love Business. We have the flag-waving cheer for big business that propaganda gave to all the countries who participated in world wars. Instead of selling patriotism, we sell “products” that you are free to buy and consume to “help the economy.”

    If your life sucks, and you find yourself with few options for satisfaction, sugary drinks are cheap. You made a choice! You got a buzz! But it won’t last. Come back for more. You know you feel refreshed.

    Come on. Help the economy. Be a pal. Drink Coke. All the boys and girls are doing it. You need to be cool, be hot, have fun, get woke, be strong, save the world. Just drink up, and don’t think up.

    G-d I’m long-winded.

    But whatever crimes against good health, good sense, good taste, and human dignity big, bloated propaganda and resource extraction companies like Coca Cola have done through soda, their higher crimes are against the water supply. Water, don’t you know, is a resource. A commodity. If you’re too poor to buy it, I guess you can die?

    Infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet. An old and true adage. But hey, you can always monetize more and more things! That means big companies monopolizing and controlling things like water rights.

    I’m sure someone is having a strategic meeting right now about how they can commodify air and corner the market on some Fresh Spring-Spring Fresh Air.

    Make no mistake. Coke (all soft drink) is good business because it’s hard to quit drinking it. But it’s even harder to quit drinking water. If soda stops selling tomorrow, these big companies that buy up water rights, that manipulate by hook and by crook any semblance of government control–they will still make a killing.


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