Health Concerns

Everyone Officially Figures Out Soda Is Terrible

The future looks bleak.
The future looks bleak. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

About all soda companies have left is their gobs of money, which is how they keep defeating everything from government nannying to science. But as the Times’ Upshot explains today in a long piece, while the soda industry right now is doing better than average in policy battles, the bigger picture is that “soda companies are losing the war.” Major players like Coke and Pepsi have their work cut out for themselves if they want to overcome what the Times calls a “serious and sustained decline.”

To wit:

• Big Soda killed Philadelphia’s proposed soda tax five years ago, but it was for naught — Philadelphians have been self-regulating ever since. Daily consumption among teens citywide dropped by 24 percent from 2007 to 2013, and childhood obesity is actually going down in the city.

• Also, American kids on the whole get fewer calories from soda these days — one study showed daily consumption dropped by 79 calories between 2004 and 2012, almost eight times more than it fell for salty snacks.

• Coca-Cola has gotten so worried about its poor health image that it now lists “obesity concerns” as the No. 1 problem for profitability.

• Sodas are getting near impossible to come by in vending machines at schools and government offices. Prohibiting them in the machines at work is a growing business-world trend.

• Soda, which is now being called “the new tobacco,” is following the same trajectory cigarettes did on their way out: Declines are occurring “among richer, white populations” now, and experts expect that poor and minority populations will be next.

• In 2000 the average American bought around 15 gallons of bottled water a year and more than 50 gallons of soda; now water is up to around 35 gallons, and soda has fallen to 40.

• Water is actually projected to surpass soda in sales in two short years, making H2O the largest beverage category in the country. Big Soda sells a decent amount of water, but it isn’t happy about the consumer’s new-found love for it — water has no brand loyalty, soda-makers have learned. It seems water’s just, well, water.


Everyone Officially Figures Out Soda Is Terrible