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Can Drinking Too Much Vitaminwater Lead to Blindness?

Tim Boyer's picture

Vitaminwater made by Coca Cola is facing another lawsuit for false advertising that some bioethicists argue can actually cause blindness rather than “reduce the risk of eye disease” as claimed by Coca Cola’s marketers of Vitaminwater.


Famed bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan and two collaborating medical health experts shared in a recent commentary in the online issue of Forbes magazine that the makers of Coca Cola are guilty of deliberately misleading the public. Cola Cola’s exact offense? Attempting to convince consumers that their sugar-laden Vitaminwater product is actually a health drink.

In fact, Dr. Caplan and co-authors point out quite plainly the ridiculousness—or is it just plan gall and belief in consumer gullibility—that Vitaminwater qualifies as health drink when it actually contains a whopping 31 grams (approximately 8 teaspoons) of sugar! One of the assertions of Vitaminwater advertising is that it could “reduce the risk of eye disease.” Apparently the makers of Vitaminwater have never heard of the association between sugar and diabetes.

The authors of the commentary point to how Coca Cola invested in what has to amount to millions of dollars in order to dupe consumers by utilizing high-profile sports celebrities such as “…NBA players LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, and Gilbert Arenas; NFL players Brian Urlacher, LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, and Donovan McNabb; MLB players David Ortiz and David Wright; and NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne,” according to their research into Coca Cola’s marketing tactics.

Quite humorously (or perhaps sadly) Coca Cola’s attorneys reportedly argue that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” In light of odious legal wrangling such as this, a literal interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s more famous quotes may not have not been far off its mark.

Caplan and colleagues point out the folly of such overt philandering with a little sarcasm and make the poignant statement that:

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“Food and beverage labels are supposed to help consumers make informed decisions about products they purchase. Do they help individuals make healthy choices? Maybe, if the individual happens to be a middle-class, educated female who cares about nutrition and does most of the food shopping for the household. If you don’t match that profile, you’re likely part of the majority of shoppers who make a choice according to what a celebrity pitched and not the tiny type on a label.”

In other words, Coca Cola marketing practice is based on the belief that the majority of consumers are fools who deserve to be treated as such.

The authors conclude by assuring consumers that in spite of the misguided hype behind Vitaminwater that, “Vitaminwater won’t prevent you from developing eye diseases. It won’t cure your cold or make you a better Sunday warrior, either. Sadly, there isn’t much in the way of nutritious things in it—and it has too much sugar to have even a passing resemblance to water.”

For an informative article on how much sugar is too much, here’s one titled “How Many Sodas Makes a Diabetic?”

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Reference: Forbes—“Does A Vitaminwater A Day Keep The Doctor Away?” by Arthur L. Caplan, Lee H. Igel, & Marie A. Bragg.