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Soft Drinks Out! The Era of Zero-Calorie Drinks Is Here

People usually drink soft drinks when they eat fast food like chicken, pizzas, and hamburgers; however, soft drinks are usually harmful to the body because they are often high in calories and low in nutrition, containing lots of sugar. With attention turning to low-calorie food, zero-calorie drink products have appeared from various brands from the beginning of this year. Coming this summer, different brands of zero-calorie drinks have started various promotions such as one plus one events to expand their market share. Therefore, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) is going to introduce the concept of zero-calorie drinks, related controversies, and market prospects.

Zero Sugar! Zero Calorie?

Zero-calorie drinks contain artificial sweeteners instead of sugar and have no calories. Artificial sweeteners usually make drinks several hundred times sweeter when added even with a smaller amount compared to sugar. Unlike sugar, patients with diabetes can drink zero-calorie drinks because artificial sweeteners are not sugar. However, zerocalorie drinks are not actually zero in calories. According to the labeling standard for food products from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, products less than four calories of energy per 100ml can be labeled as zero-calorie even if there are few calories in drinks. But considering that the original 500ml Coca-Cola contains 216kcal, it seems proper to deem zero-calorie drinks as no-calorie. The latest zero-calorie drink craze in Korea indicates a trend of focusing on health care and fitness. As outdoor activities are decreasing, and time for staying at home is getting longer due to continuous contact-free society, the number of people gaining weight has increased. Accordingly, lots of soft-drink companies released various zero-calorie drinks, and consumers began to satisfy their needs. For instance, 10 million bottles of Chilsung Cider Zero were sold in the first two months since its release in January.

Coca-Cola Zero and Original Coca-Cola (reali.co.il)

Can Zero-Calorie Drinks Replace Soft Drinks?

-Are the Controversies about Zero-Calorie Drinks Real?

As zero-calorie drinks have been growing in popularity recently, articles worrying about their harmfulness are pouring out, but in fact, these concerns are not that serious. Artificial sweeteners are usually called food additives that enhance the sensory qualities of foods, preserve, and help manufacture foods. They are strictly verified by the government, meaning their safety is guaranteed. There are several artificial sweeteners contained in zero-calorie drinks such as sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and aspartame. Sucralose, which is usually added to drinks, bread, and ice cream, is famous for its similar sweet taste to sugar and clean aftertaste. According to several studies, when sucralose is consumed with carbohydrates, the sensitivity to sweetness temporarily decreases. As people usually drink zero-calorie drinks when eating food with lots of carbohydrates like pizza, it is necessary to be cautious. However, there is also counter research about this issue, and this issue is still in study. But the fact that Coca-Cola Zero is included in the suggested list of relatively free intake foods by the Korean Diabetes Association (KDA) proves its safety. Likewise, more research about the harmfulness of acesulfame potassium and aspartame still needs to be conducted. However, as zero-calorie drinks contain about 3% of the acceptable daily intake of artificial sweeteners, it seems there is probably no need to worry.

Pepsi Zero Sugar Lime (khouseofpepsi.com)

-Zero-Calorie Drinks for a Successful Diet!

Zero-calorie drinks are also attracting attention for their calorie-free ingredients thanks to artificial sweeteners. Common soft drinks add sugar for a sweet taste, and this sugar increases calories without adding any nutritional benefit. On the other hand, artificial sweeteners contained in zerocalorie drinks are non-trophic substances, and they cannot be used as energy sources in the human body. Therefore, the calories of these drinks are very low, which is helpful for a diet. Some studies argue that artificial sweeteners may increase appetite rather than leading to an unhealthy diet. Normally, the human body takes it for granted that the number of calories comes inside as much as the sweet taste is perceived. But when people consume artificial sweeteners, there may be confusion in the body since there is no intake of calories corresponding to their sweetness. This confusion may let people feel the need for more food. But even if this study is reliable, it is still true that drinking zerocalorie drinks instead of soft drinks prevents people from consuming many calories. In addition, as it relieves the desire to drink soft drinks during a diet, it might have a positive effect on the diet.

Sprite Zero Sugar and Chilsung Cider Zero (dailycnc.com)

Replace Soft Drinks with Zero-Calorie Drinks!

According to Euromonitor, a global market research company, the Korean zero-calorie drinks market in 2020 has grown to 132.9 billion won. Until 2020, Coca-Cola Zero preoccupied the market, but from 2021, Sprite Zero and Pepsi Zero Sugar also entered Korea, providing consumers with a wider range of choices. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in 2015 that the recommended intake of sugar in a day is 50g for adults who consume 2000kcal per day, but 54g of sugar is contained in a 500ml small plastic bottle of Coca-Cola. Since people also consume a lot of sugar from various other foods, drinking soft drinks with a large amount of sugar may lead to various diseases. Lots of studies about artificial sweeteners in zero-calorie drinks are still in progress, and studies based on humans are not yet sufficient. But still, it can be assumed that drinking zero-calorie drinks is indeed less harmful to the human body than drinking soft drinks. Having zerocalorie drinks instead of soft drinks might be the better choice!

Empty Bottles from Various Soft Drink Brands (unsplash.com)

Soft drinks have been loved by people for a long time, but they are also well-known for being unhealthy. Nevertheless, some of you have probably struggled at times between considering your health and experiencing the joy of the taste. Of course, it is not good for your health to drink zero-calorie drinks like water, but they could be another choice instead of soft drinks!

서혜준  sdw11882@g.skku.edu

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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