Drinking too much cola a 'substantial factor' in N.Z. woman's death
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:57AM EST
A New Zealand woman’s death has been linked to extreme Coca-Cola consumption, according to a coroner’s report, which urged the soft-drink giant to place warning labels on its caffeinated products.
Natasha Harris died suddenly of cardiac arrest three years ago. According to Harris’ family, the 31-year-old was addicted to Coca-Cola, drinking upwards of 10 litres a day and suffering withdrawal symptoms if she went without the carbonated drink.
According to New Zealand’s TVNZ, a coroner’s report released Tuesday connects Harris’ death with excessive Coke consumption.
Coroner David Crerar said her Coca-Cola intake had given rise to cardiac arrhythmia, a condition in which the heart beats too fast or too slow.
“It is more likely than not that the drinking of large quantities of Coke was a substantial factor that contributed to the development of the metabolic imbalances which gave rise to the arrhythmia,” wrote Crerar.
Harris suffered from a myriad of other health complications, including liver problems and tooth decay.
The coroner’s report also points out that at least one of Harris’ eight children were born without enamel on their teeth, which should have been treated as a warning, according to TVNZ.
In the wake of Harris’s death, Crerar has suggested that food-safety warnings on carbonated drinks may be insufficient in protecting consumers.
Coca-Cola responded to the report, saying they were “disappointed” in the coroner’s findings.
“We are disappointed that the coroner has chosen to focus on the combination of Ms. Harris’ excessive consumption of Coca-Cola together with other health and lifestyle factors as the probable cause of death,” reads the statement sent to TVNZ. “This is contrary to the evidence that showed the experts could not agree on the most likely cause.”
The company released an earlier statement on Harris’s death during a 2012 inquiry, suggesting the gross consumption of any food product, including water, over a short period of time can be “dramatically symptomatic.”
Health Canada recommends a maximum caffeine intake of 400 mg per day. The agency doesn’t give a specific guideline for sugar intake, but points to the Institute of Medicine recommendation that no more than 25 per cent of total daily calorie intake come from added sugars.
Crerar calculated that drinking 10 litres of Coke per day would amount to 970mg of caffeine and more than 1kg of sugar daily.