It’s hard to know what to say about the case of the death of a woman in which Coca Cola has been implicated. There are so many issues at play here. As a huge believer in the impact of our food environment on health status and obesity rates I feel that was a major factor in this woman’s death. If nutritionally void foods weren’t so cheap and easily available perhaps this death could have been avoided. However, to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Coca Cola (despite my dislike for both the company and their product) seems unfair and simplifies a complex issue. Now, I do think that Coca Cola’s response was ludicrous. Coca Cola said that even water can be deadly in high doses over a short period of time. I mean really, too much of anything is bad for you, but likening excessive pop consumption to hyponatermia is a little far-fetched and insensitive.
From the details of the case that are publicly available it sounds like a number of factors contributed to the death of this young woman. Overall poor nutrition, excessive soda consumption, smoking… This woman had eight children and was only 30 years old so I’m thinking that stress might have been another contributing factor. Yes, Coca Cola may have contributed to her death but I don’t think that the blame can be placed solely on them. When things like this happen it’s easy to see how a good media story can come out of it sensationalizing the role of pop in a death. However, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. Why was this woman consuming practically only Coca Cola? Perhaps she had an eating disorder. Can Coca Cola be blamed for that? Perhaps she had little money for food and Coca Cola was an easy way to get calories? Can Coca Cola be blamed for that? Yes, Coca Cola was more than likely a contributing factor in this young woman’s death. There were other factors as well and there were likely other reasons behind these factors. If anything good can come out of this story it should be an increased call for a revamping of our food system.