Nowadays, the use of carbonated drinks, meaning that they contain carbon dioxide gas creating those bubbles and fizzling which many kids and adults, as well, like so much has become into a global issue. Carbonated beverages include soft drinks and energy drinks. According to Cameron (2005), more than half of the young population in the developed countries consumes soft drinks frequently (p. 49). Britain, France and big school systems in the USA, such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles have already banned soft drinks in public places, such as schools (Vartanian et al., 2007, p.667). Now imagine a hot summer day, you are thirsty and go into a supermarket. You have a wide choose of drinks in front of you: water, soft drinks, juices, lemonades or whatever, and in most of cases, you are going to buy a can of cola. Why not mineral water? The use of carbonated drinks has always been an actual theme in the health area and everyone has been told about their dangers. The question is: why do people keep buying them? Doctors and opponents assert that carbonated drinks that affect critically on people’s health and cause the shortage of water resources. However, opponents say that the production of carbonated drinks brings an enormous profit to the economy.
The first reason against soft drink production is that they may lead to different health problems. The increase in obesity among children is a big problem nowadays and one of the main factors is consuming soft drinks. Some of the 88 long-term studies conducted in the area of soft drink usage have shown that the high glycemic index present in the soft drinks stimulates appetite and suppresses the sense of satiety. Participants that used soft drinks for 3 to 10 weeks consumed 20% more energy than in their normal diet, as a result, participants gained weight during the studies, the consequence was a 0.3 increase in their body mass index (BMI) (Vartanian et al., p. 668). Current research made by James and Kerr (2005) shows that there is a direct link between soft drinks and obesity at every age (p. 56). This can be attributed to the 500% increase in the consumption of soft drinks all over the world in the last 50 years, which followed the increase of obesity among children in both developing and developed countries. As an example, 3.3% increase in childhood obesity between 1991 and 1993 in Thailand, or a 3.8% increase between 1995 and 2003 in the UK (James & Kerr, p. 54).
Moreover, the number of people who suffer from diabetes increased by a 112%. The increase in the average body mass index (BMI) of the population and energy consume correlates with the increase in consuming non-diet carbonated drinks between 1970 and 1997 (Vartanian et al, p. 672). In addition to this, there was a shocking result from a study in the USA where 91249 women participated over 8 years, which showed that those women who consumed 1 serving of soft drink per month had a twice less risk of diabetes and increase in blood pressures than those women who consumed 1 or more serving per day (Vartanian et al., p. 673).
Furthermore, a few studies have shown that participants who consumed soft drinks had exceeded the daily amount of required sugar, which is 32g by 4-5 times. The amount of protein has decreased by an average of 14% and intake of variety of vitamins and nutrients was improper. Lower level of fruit, dietary fiber and macronutrients in the diet of participants was present. In addition to this, the use of soft drinks has decreased the consumption of calcium sources like milk, which lead to calcium deficiency, lowered bone mineral density and a 10% increase in bone fracture (Vartanian et al., p. 671). Consequently, different health problems may be cause by soft drink consumption.
The second reason in favor of banning energy drinks is that energy drinks are a relatively new product in the market and consumers do not know about possible outcomes of energy drinks’ consume. According to a report by The Associated Press(2003) , third of the teenagers in the USA admit to drink several cans in a row to get a rush of energy, as there are no labels and regulations made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, indicating the possible harms and effects of energy drink consume.
First of all, energy drinks contain caffeine, they also contain amino acids, such as taurine and carnitine, and stimulants, such as ginseng and guarana, which have similar effects to caffeine. Many energy drinks contain the amount of caffeine equal to one cup of coffee, taking more than just one drink may cause problems. According to Bernstein et al. (2002), too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains and neurologic symptoms (as cited in Finnegan, 2003, .p 149). “Much controversy was around the stimulant drinks” as the case of death in Ireland in the 2000, a male student died after consuming 3 cans of energy drink while participating in a basketball tournament. Three more deaths were linked with going to the gym after consuming several cans of stimulant drinks and the use of energy drinks mixed with vodka in Sweden, July 2001 (Finnegan, .p 148).
Moreover, the usage of energy drinks, a stimulant, combined with alcohol, a depressant, is widely practiced nowadays. A research by Finnegan shows that energy drinks combined with alcohol are consumed by more than half of the people surveyed on Ireland. Few researches were conducted in this area. According to O’Brien (n.d), “people who consumed energy drinks with alcohol were twice as likely to injure themselves, require medical attention, or ride with a drunk driver” (as cited in Cody, 2009, p. 23). Alcohol consumed separately leads to change in behavior, lowered blood pressure and increased heart rate, while caffeine consumed separately causes increased blood pressure. According to Rush et al. (1993), when caffeine and alcohol are mixed together, caffeine “partially decreases the behavioral effects of alcohol”. However, heart related effects, like heart pressure and heart rate do not change (as cited in Finnegan, .p 153). The Swedish National Food Authority[SNFA](2001) recommended not to drink stimulant drinks with alcohol, which was followed by the case of a young woman’s death in Sweden from arrhythmia after using energy drinks with alcohol (as cited in Finnegan, p. 153). Thus, there is a small information about energy drinks and they should be drank carefully.
The third reason in favor of banning carbonated drinks is that the carbonated drinks’ industry consumes too much water resources. According to Vandani(2005) “it takes nine litres of clean water to manufacture a litre of Coke” (para. 1). As an example, the case of India. Nowadays, Coca-Cola and Pepsi owned 90 multinational factories that produce carbonated drinks in India. The companies constructed water-pumping plants describing them as bottling plants which extract up to 1.5million litres of water a day. As a consequence of Coca-Cola’s activities, 260 wells have depleted in India, followed by the drop of the water table from 45 to 150 m below the surface (Vandani 2005, para. 3). This case was followed by the closure of several multinational water-pumping factories in India.
However, carbonated drinks bring enormous profit to the economy. Carbonated drinks generated a total of $187.2billion in the 2009 (Datamonitor, 2010, p. 7).One of the most well-known giants in this industry are companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Red Bull, followed by thousands of brands. These companies contribute to huge amounts of money going through the world trade market. To give an example, in the 2007 the Coca-Cola brand itself was valued at $44.134 billion (Brand Value of Coca-Cola, para. 4), after Microsoft, GE and Google, owning other 12, billion dollar brands, such as Fanta, Sprite. The statistic shows that only Coca-Cola’s net sales are $28billions, $32billions and $30.990billions worldwide for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively, the profit was $5.9billions, $5.807billions and $6.823billions each of the years (Coca-Cola Company (KO), 2010, Table 1). Nowadays, the Coca-Cola Company is expanding all over the world, establishing its presence in more than 200 countries. This includes over 92,800 employees all over the world (Coca-Cola Company Information, 2010), without counting those who work on factories and different facilities. Another example of the carbonated drinks industry member is Red Bull, which is the fastest growing industry in the USA nowadays, doubling their sales every year. They have a net income of $4billions and a profit of $2billions in the 2009 with 8000 employees (Forbes, 2009).
Moreover, carbonated drinks companies invest a lot of money in different projects. The Coca-Cola Company itself has 19 local and regional foundations which help to improve the well-being of society. As an example, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, founded in the 2001, which made a $30million investment to African countries in the 2009, it also helps anticipating malaria and AIDS, it also provides education and job places in Africa. There are other foundations, such as The Coca-Cola Youth Foundation, which helps young disabled children, providing disabled people with different activities and supporting young, or the SAS & Coca-Cola Environmental Foundation, which “funds projects related to waste management, recycling, and water resources”. Foundations like Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, Thailand , Indonesia help citizens of those countries in cases of disasters, provide better opportunities in livelihood and education, supporting young people in need (Coca-Cola Regional and Local Foundations, 2010). Taxes on soft drinks also bring profit to the economy. As an example, $40 million from 2 cents per 360 ml of soft drink taxes in Arkansas, $218 million from 7.25% sales tax in California and $1 billion in the USA annually (Jacobson & Brownell, 2000, p. 854). So, the world economy benefits from the carbonated drink industry.
In conclusion, banning carbonated drinks causes much controversy. There are opinions that the negative effects of carbonated drinks are the different health problems that they cause and the shortage of water resources, however, they bring economic profits to the economy. In my point of view, the ban of carbonated drinks does not seem a very realistic solution, as in the case of banning cigarettes or alcohol. However, the regulation of carbonated drinks usage and proper advertising among children should be a good solution. Also, carbonated drinks should be banned in public places such as schools and universities.
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