Is the Coca-Cola Company killing more people than COVID-19?
Soda is a killer. Health professionals and Michelle Obama have been saying it for years, but is the Coca-Cola Company killing even more people than COVID-19? Mexican Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell seems to think so, or at the very least he believes there is a link.
Mexico’s COVID-19 fatality rate is one of the highest in the world right now. Their rate of COVID-19 deaths is only lower than that of Brazil and the United States. As a leader in unwellness caused by the pandemic, it became a priority for Mexican government officials to get to the bottom of the root causes.
While some might think the low adherence to mask wearing in Mexico would be an obvious contributor to the virus’s rampant spread, government officials have placed the blame in a different direction, citing mixed opinions about the effectiveness of face masks. Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell instead places the blame for high COVID-19 fatality rates on a soft drink giant: the Coca-Cola Company.
The Coca-Cola Company & Mexico have history
Excessive soft drink consumption has long been an issue in Mexico. According to a study done by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, about three out of four citizens in Mexico are overweight. Like other countries, soda is often priced lower than healthy drinks like water so this makes it even more appealing to consumers.
It’s long been acknowledged that obesity is linked to illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Illnesses like these provide comorbidities for viruses like COVID-19 to do more damage in conjunction with.
Long before the arrival of the dreaded coronavirus strains wreaking havoc on world health, major beverage businesses like the Coca-Cola Company have been involved in Mexican politics. In 2014, Mexico began a 1 peso (about 5 cents) per liter tax on sugary beverages and high-calorie snacks. This money was supposed to have gone toward improving general public health, but evidence of this remains to be seen.
So is the Coca-Cola Company a bigger killer than COVID-19?
While public health officials like López-Gatell may seek to place the blame for COVID-19-related deaths on soft drink companies, the evidence is murky. Some say López-Gatell is merely looking to shift the blame elsewhere because of the Mexican government’s questionable response to the pandemic.
Mexican President López Obrador has spoken in favor of Mexican citizens helping themselves rather than a focus on economic stimulus packages. López Obrador encourages families to band together to support themselves and to pull away from processed diets in order to get themselves through the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s true that about 180,00 deaths worldwide have been attributed to the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. This finding was revealed in a Circulation journal article about a study done by Tufts University.
According to the Washington Post, about “one in every 100 deaths from obesity-related diseases is [caused] by sugary beverages.” Mexico is reported to have the highest amount of deaths related to sugary beverages and the United States trails behind it.
While obesity caused by the consumption of sugary beverages like those produced by The Coca-Cola Company have clearly been linked to a higher risk of death when contracting COVID-19, it’s a bit of a stretch to singularly place the blame on these companies. The 180,000 worldwide death toll is nowhere near the estimated COVID-19 death count.
That’s not to say it wouldn’t be a good idea to lay off the soft drinks. Considering a healthier lifestyle could not only increase your chances of surviving COVID-19, but increase your overall life expectancy and quality of living. Taking Coca-Cola off the shopping list is just a good idea in general.