Katie Bayne, president and general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America, says that calorie management can allow consumers to drink sugary beverages without risk of obesity. Kambui blog

Leave it to big food companies – in this instance through senior-level Coca-Cola executive Katie Bayne – to give us pointers on how to drink the sodas and other forms of liquid sugar Coca-Cola sells  without catching a load of diseases science has linked to the consumption of these beverages.

Here’s what the 45-year old divisional president had to say in reference to government policies, like the one imposed by  NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, that limit the size of sugary drinks sold:

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


In a fantasy world absent of biology and other scientific artifacts, Bayne would have made a brilliant statement. Too bad her world gets rocked by facts.

Let’s reference a study written by Liset Leal-Vasquez, Tammy Wyatt, and Ashley Love that was published in the 2007 Californian Journal of Health Promotion [PDF]. The study reviewed the eating habits of Mexican-American San Antonio high school students and noted that while the average study participant was calorie-deficient, obesity was still prevalent among those students as well as other calorie-deficient people outside of the study.

Let’s revisit that last point, but slower this time, for our Big Food executives in denial about science. High school boys and girls require 2000-3200 and 1800-2400 respective calories per day. These undernourished San Antonio students – short of being confined to beds all day and every day – should theoretically burn more calories than the relatively few they consume, yet obesity remained an issue.

So much for the “Burn more calories and balance” argument.

The Leal-Vasquez, et al study didn’t directly analyze the links between calorie deficiency and obesity but made an interesting observation about the study participants’ eating habits:

“[P]articipants commonly reported consuming high calorie snacks, high consumption of soda and sugary beverages, minimal to no fruit or vegetable intake and high consumption of refined carbohydrates.”

Here’s an annoying reminder: these students were calorie-deficient.

I’m sure there are plenty of wacky ingredients in most of the foods those students ate, but the subject for today is Coca-Cola and soft drink peddlers like them. Since plenty of sodas and sugary beverages are made with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS], it’s time to recall Princeton University’s study of rats that consumed relatively low amounts of HFCS but gained plenty of weight relative to rats that ate table sugar and a similar number of daily calories.

Okay, I’m finished blowin’ up Bayne’s spot, but let me ask you a question: what should you think about Bayne’s earlier quote and her refusal to recommend how much Coke to drink – given Coca-Cola’s partial ownership in the health outcomes of its consumers?

Song currently stuck in my head: “ain’t misbehavin’” – tiny grimes

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