Fizzy Drinks and Human Rights Abuse

The illustration on this page represents an effort by the Coca-Cola Company to convince the public that its product is as vital to existence as the human body’s own heart and circulatory system. This is the kind of clever iconography that helps Coke and the beverage industry maintain their stranglehold on the world’s subconscious mind.

In a recently referenced article about the spread of child obesity in the Caribbean, author Daphne Ewing-Chow voiced the opinion that…

Allowing children to consume sugary drinks on a regular basis is a violation of Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that provides for “the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.”

Many people share this idea that childhood obesity is a social justice issue, and as such, should be addressed by policy makers, the education system, and parents. But how? What can be done to break the hold that the soda industry has on its young market?

On the individual level

When we talk about sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), that also includes beverages artificially sweetened with chemicals or boosted with “flavor enhancers,” which are just as harmful for their own reasons. How can kids who drink far too many sugar-sweetened beverages be helped?

We talked before about how continual drinking can be seen as a form of grazing, a behavioral glitch that impels a person to constantly supply the mouth with something to amuse it. In “Addiction Model Intervention for Obesity in Young People,” Dr. Pretlow and co-author Carol M. Stock wrote,

Grazing is eating or drinking continually. Keeping candy in your pocket or desk, always sipping a soda, frequent trips to the “goodies” table at work or school, and frequent getting snacks from the vending machine are examples of grazing.

Some experts believe that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and while that statistic is debatable, there is no doubt that…

[…] dehydration can adversely affect vigilance, concentration, reaction time, learning, memory, mood and reasoning and can cause headaches, fatigue and anxiety.

Probably nobody has ever been harmed by carrying around a container of water all day and drinking from it frequently. The same is not true of carrying around a container of soda pop, which has every appearance of being an addictive behavior, and definitely causes harm.

Here is a quotation from another publication by the same authors, concerning an early study of problem foods for Weigh2Rock:

Most prevalent problem foods were: soda (59%), chips (57%), ice cream (38%), pizza, (35%), and candy (24%).

Successful withdrawal was accomplished by 89% of participants, involving 1-12 problem foods (minimum 10 days of withdrawal required). Certain foods were more difficult: soda (mean 22.5 days), chips (18.5 days), ice cream (15 days), and pizza (11 days).

When that information registers, it is something of a shock. In terms of addictive potential, SSBs are right up there with chips! The good news is that like the overconsumption of food, overconsumption of SSBs responds to addiction treatment methods. This is why we recommend W8Loss2Go, the smartphone app that facilitates withdrawal from problem foods by staged increments.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Sugary Beverages Are Feeding A Childhood Obesity Epidemic In the Caribbean,”, 12/23/19
Source: “Addiction Model Intervention for Obesity in Young People,”, 2014
Source: “Compulsive Eating / Food Addiction Intervention for Obesity Implemented as a Smartphone App: a Pilot Study,”, 2013
Image sources: Shaun Preece/Creative Commons

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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