What is the lethal dosage of fat

Deadly dose

He is glad that it is over, says Christopher Hodgkinson, at last he knew what his partner died of when he was only 31 years old. The whole world now knows his wife's name. The story of Natasha Harris from New Zealand hit the headlines because she was believed to have died from over-indulging in Coca-Cola. The mother of eight children is said to have drank up to ten liters every day, she was “addicted”, said Christopher Hodgkinson, “if she didn't get her soft drink, she went crazy.” Water, tea, coffee and alcohol would have his Woman not tasted.

Harris had died three years ago after collapsing in her toilet, but the exact circumstances that led to her death remained unclear for a long time. However, one thing was certain: the 31-year-old's teeth were rotten to the root, her liver was many times larger, her heart was extremely fast, and one day in February it just stopped. Years of consumption of cola are said to be partly to blame for the death of the New Zealander, said David Crerar, the coroner of the case, last Tuesday. He had concluded that Harris would not have died "this time and in the way" had she not ingested such a large amount of the drink. Even if the group cannot be held solely responsible for the death of the woman, Crerar recommends that the company put warning labels on its caffeinated drinks.

The company sees it differently, says Geert Harzmann, spokesman for Coca-Cola: "On our labels we provide nutritional information about our drinks and also the percentage of the recommended daily calorie intake." This enables consumers to make a conscious choice of drinks. Harris drank a lot of Coke, but otherwise had a very unhealthy lifestyle; she is said to have smoked 30 cigarettes a day and ate very little.

But how dangerous is the drink anyway, regardless of which company makes it? Around 100 milliliters of cola contain around ten milligrams of caffeine. 32 milligrams per 100 milliliters are approved for soft drinks in Germany. The alkaloid alone poses no danger, says Andreas Pfeiffer, director of the clinic for endocrinology, diabetes and nutritional medicine at the Berlin Charité. There have been a number of large studies on the effects of caffeine on the body, not least because deaths after consuming energy drinks have drawn attention in the past. It was only in October 2012 that a 14-year-old girl in the USA died of cardiac arrhythmias after consuming two cans of “Monster Energy”.

In fact, caffeine could lead to such cardiac arrhythmias when consumed more. But this is rather the exception, says Pfeiffer: "Caffeine in itself is more protective, which means that people who drink a lot of coffee have a low rather than an increased risk of developing heart and blood vessels." Studies have said that proved, in which test subjects drank six cups of coffee, which can contain up to ten times more caffeine than cola. It wasn’t more cups than that, as a person would normally not drink more each day, explains Pfeiffer.

But it was not just caffeine that apparently affected Harris' body. According to the autopsy report, her liver was many times larger, and fat was deposited in the organ. Harris consumed around a kilogram of sugar just by consuming the soda - every day. According to the Coca-Cola group, about ten grams of saccharides are found in 100 milliliters of the soft drink. This corresponds to about 36 sugar cubes per 1 liter bottle. But sugar alone is not harmful at all, says Andreas Pfeiffer. Rather, the excessive consumption of calories is the problem.

The large amount of kilocalories, 42 per 100 milliliters of cola, very likely led to liver damage and possibly also to obesity of the heart muscle cells and thus to heart failure in the 31-year-old. “Anyone who drinks ten liters of Coca-Cola a day consumes around four thousand kilocalories from the sugar. That is a systematic fattening. ”Adults should not consume more than 2000 kilocalories per day. The liquid sugar in lemonade appears in the blood within minutes and ensures that insulin is released, which in the medium term could lead to diabetes.

But it is not only the excessive consumption of classic cola that is dangerous. Even light lemonades, which manufacturers advertise because of their use of sweeteners instead of sugar, can make you sick. Although these soft drinks are lower in calories, says Pfeiffer, they increase the risk of developing diabetes more than normal lemonade. Two researchers from the French medical research institute INSERM recently came to the same conclusion in a study with 66,000 women.

Nevertheless, such thirst quenchers are not solely responsible for heart disease. These could also be caused by the increased consumption of proteins, fats or carbohydrates, for example by the disproportionate consumption of cream cake or black bread. “If a person eats 4,000 calories a day, in the end it doesn't really matter what they eat,” says Pfeiffer. If a person is already overweight, but then - like Harris - reaches for a cigarette and several bottles of soda per day, the risk of heart disease increases fivefold. "And if the woman has been drinking cola all the time and eating very little else, then she may also have had all kinds of deficiencies in nutrients and vitamins."

In particular, the deficiency of the mineral potassium, which is important for the organism, can lead to serious health consequences, such as paralysis of the heart muscle. Coca-Cola had come under criticism in the past because of a similar problem. The acidulant phosphorus present in the drink is supposed to bind potassium, which is crucial for building bones. Children in particular are therefore prone to broken bones when they drink cola.

Pfeiffer considers the explanation of the death of the eight-time mother by Coca-Cola to be "grotesque". From his point of view, soft drinks are problematic. But attributing the death of Natasha Harris solely to this is absurd. There is nothing against consuming several liters of lemonade per day with sufficient exercise and a healthy diet.