August 14, 2000
4:34 PM   Subscribe

Attention trial lawyers! Miss out on your chance to get rich off a piece of Big Tobacco? All your buddies already sliced up the potential Firestone pie? Well, have we got a cutting-edge trend for you: Aim for Big Soda! Johns Hopkins claims soft drink companies use caffiene to addict consumers.
posted by aaron (15 comments total)
I didn't ask to be born, I'm suing my mom.
posted by thirteen at 4:51 PM on August 14, 2000

The sample size was only 25 people!

"The Johns Hopkins study found that only 8 percent of a group of 25 adult consumers were able to detect the caffeine in sodas."

And this rates an MSNBC story? Give me a break!
posted by wiremommy at 5:03 PM on August 14, 2000

Of course they do. They used to use cocaine. Many simply use sugar. These substances have a tremendous effect on our bodies. See Dr. Andrew Weil's From Chocolate to Morphine for more info. (But please buy it from your local independent bookstore.)
posted by sudama at 6:11 PM on August 14, 2000

I just finished a non-caffinated sugar-free soda - and it was made by A Corporation! Now I wonder exactly which devious trick they used to make me purchase it.

Besides the delicious, refreshing flavor, that is.
posted by lileks at 6:58 PM on August 14, 2000

I just drink fruit juices and lemonade nowadays. Can I sue anybody?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:34 PM on August 14, 2000

I got dibs on the coffee companies. Juan Valdez will never know what hit him!
posted by cCranium at 7:37 PM on August 14, 2000

lileks: some combination of branding and advertising, no doubt.
posted by sudama at 7:56 PM on August 14, 2000

>>And this rates an MSNBC story? Give me a break!<<

That's the problem with scientific research. Saying something is bad gets attention. Research saying something isn't bad doesn't.

posted by aaron at 8:19 PM on August 14, 2000

Personally, I think the problem here is stupid science journalism, not stupid science. That news story gets a lot more coverage than a 25-person study warrants.
posted by rcade at 8:57 PM on August 14, 2000

The quality of scientific research and statistics are either getting worse all the time or the sources that channel it are just becoming too lazy to cover it up.

My contacts in law enforcement tell me about the huge margins of error in crime reporting. This applies to the Chicago area, but I don't doubt it could apply elsewhere. The number of crimes that are mis-recorded or simply not recorded is huge. The next time you look at any statistic remember that people at the source have no interest in accuracy.
posted by john at 11:24 PM on August 14, 2000

Bah, I have no qualms about being addicted to caffiene.
posted by cheaily at 6:32 AM on August 15, 2000

I like caffiene. Can I sue if they cut back on caffinated drinks?
posted by tortoise at 7:25 AM on August 15, 2000

I used to be a smoker and one of the reasons I stopped was because it was spoiling the quality of my life. You know...walking upstairs without having a heart attack, that sort of thing. I can't say that fizzy drinks have had quite the same impact on me (although my teeth may wish to disagree) but you do have to think about why the caffeine's there.

The big companies behind these drinks are obsessed with research and I'm sure the possible benefits of caffeine addiction haven't passed them by. What's interesting about this is that while caffeine is undoubtedly no where near as harmful as nicotine, isn't it still morally wrong to continue to include it simply for it's addictive qualities?

A few weeks ago I read an article in the Guardian about energy drinks where a Professor Jack James said that the commonly held view that caffeine improves physical and mental performance is a myth. He suggested that caffeine made the user feel better simply by removing their withdrawal symptoms.
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:03 AM on August 15, 2000

I don't think a study about how well people can pick out caffiene by taste test would get to make the "claim" that cola manufacturers manipulate caffiene levels for addicting consumers.

At least it shouldn't. All the scientist in the study seemed to be saying is that the "claim" by cola manufacturers that they add caffiene for taste is dubious since no one can taste caffiene in soda.
The interviewee pushed (or was pushed, who knows?) the limits of what the data supports... "The parallels are stunning..."

Bad reporting, but also bad posting. Good science, but probably bad quotes from scientist.

I predict that at some point in the future, soft drink companies will admit that they add caffiene for its "effect," not it's taste. They will be better off this way, since no state attorneys general will sue Coke to reclaim expenditures from treating rampant tooth decay. By saying that cola has an "effect" on the user, they will be implying that it can create a dependency cycle, but, unlike cigarette companies, they will be basically safe, since the number of people caffiene has killed must be very very small.

posted by rschram at 8:31 AM on August 15, 2000

Not so much the soft drink companies, but there's little doubt in my mind that Starbucks is following the Big Tobacco marketing model (watch this fall for the Frappaccino cartoon characters...)
posted by wendell at 2:14 PM on August 15, 2000

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