Updated 31 July 2015

Why that Coke infographic is nonsense

An infographic about the harmful affects of a can of Coke set the internet on fire, but the science poured cold water all over it.


The internet was abuzz recently with an infographic claiming to show just how bad for you a single can of coke can be, citing issues with blood sugar, dehydration and brain chemistry.

See the infographic here.

Unfortunately for the author of the infographic, Niraj Naik, experts around the world took note, and quickly began pointing out some serious flaws in its claims. Here’s what’s wrong.

Claim 1: Coke is so sweet that you would throw up if it wasn’t for all the acid.

Reality: Most people could easily consume 10 teaspoons of sugar (roughly the amount in one can of coke) without any feelings of nausea. Dr. Kimber Stanhope, interviewed by Buzzfeed, claims that they have had hundreds of participants consume that much sugar in a study, which was published in the journal Endocrine and not one reported feeling nauseous.

Claim 2: The spike in blood sugar causes your liver to produce fat.

Reality: The spike in sugar, and insulin, is not necessarily what causes your liver to produce fat. It’s actually the fructose that is the issue. The human liver is not particularly adept at metabolising fructose and tends to produce fat as a result of that.

Read: Why you need to worry about fructose

Claim 3: The caffeine in coke works on your brain the same way heroin does.

Reality: Caffeine does indeed increase dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centres of the brain. However, the scale on which this happens is magnitudes smaller than if one had taken heroin.  The amount of caffeine in a can of coke is less than in an average cup of coffee.

Essentially, the claims in the infographic are, when not outright muddled up science, terrifically exaggerated. 

Read more:

What's SA's most sugary drink? 

Is Coke a good idea for a snack?

8 litres-a-day Coke drinker dies


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