Do You Know How Much Sugar is in There?: Coca-Cola getting sued over Vitamin Water

In case you were unaware, Coca-Cola owns Vitamin Water.  And they are getting sued for misleading advertisements in regards to Vitamin Water.  Many people, incorrectly, believe that Vitamin Water is a healthy, sports drink.  I have heard people say that they just thought it was water with a splash of juice and lots of vitamins…well, they are wrong.

Vitamin Water is made with water, little or no juice, vitamins and sugar…lots of sugar.  If you look at the nutrition label on a bottle of Vitamin Water, you will see they list the amount of sugar (which slightly varies from flavor to flavor) at around 13g of sugar.  This is the equivalent of a little more than 3 teaspoons.  OK, so three isn't terrible, but this is the amount in a serving not in a bottle.  A bottle has 2.5 servings.  So, if you work out the math, you will see that a bottle of Vitamin Water has roughly 8 to 9 teaspoons of sugar, which is about as much as a can of soda (which is closer to 10 teaspoons of sugar).  Health drink?  I think not.

In defense of Coca-Cola (don't do that too often), they have never said it is a healthy drink.  However, the offense is that there is an implication that it is healthy..after all, it is called "Vitamin" water.  In the long run, Coca-Cola will win, as they always do, but what is good about this lawsuit is that it brings attention to an issue that needs attention brought to it.  That labels are deceiving and food manufacturers aren't always concerned with your health.  It also draws attention to the fact that as a society, we are ingesting too much sugar.

Here are some tidbits about sugar:

  • You don't need it!  Our bodies need carbohydrates, but they do not need refined sugars.  Our bodies are better off breaking down natural sugars, found in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains or naturally-occuring sugar found in fruit.       

  • When you ingest too much sugar, your body reacts by pumping out a lot of insulin to counteract it.  Over time, if your body needs to continuously pump out excessive amounts of insulin, it begins to lose it's ability to make insulin, thus leading to either Type II Diabetes or Insulin Resistance. 

  • Taking in excessive amounts of sugar makes you tired.  You get a quick "high" from the sugar, then a "sugar crash" which can make you tired and unenergetic.  

  • When you experience the low, your body then craves more sugar to wake it back up, thus causing sugar cravings.  You get stuck in a cycle of craving sugar and then feeling tired.  

  • When getting stuck in this cycle, you may have a tendency to crave sugary foods rather than nutritious foods, thus filling up on empty calories.

  • Also getting stuck in this cycle (or simply taking in too much sugar) will cause you to gain weight as the excess sugar will get stored as fat.  And beleive it or not, sugar is much more easily stored as fat, then fat! 

How to compute how much sugar you are taking in:

  • 4 grams of sugar equals a teaspoon of sugar.  So when you look at a label, keep this mind.  If an item states 28 grams of sugar, that is the equivalent of 7 teaspoons of sugar. 


Although 28 grams of sugar is a lot, some health foods you will see with this much sugar are fruits.  Keep this in mind.  Fruit is healthy, it has naturally occuring sugar.  This is not the same as a food with added, refined sugar.   So if you pick up a yogurt and see it has 28 grams of sugar, some is from the yogurt and some is from the fruit added to it.  Bottom line:  Don't stop eating fruit!

On a final note, read labels.  Know what you are putting in your body and learn to ignore the health claims on a box of food.  And finally, eat less sugar!  You'll feel much better.

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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