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Dr. Amit
Dr. Amit, Doctor
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Experience:  MBBS, Licenced Medical Practitioner & Online Health Advisor & Writer
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I have a problem - my dad drinks waaaay too much Coca Cola,

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I have a problem - my dad drinks waaaay too much Coca Cola, and he claims it's not hurting him at all.... he's 59 years old and he buys... 8-12 2-liter bottles of it every 1-2 weeks, all of it is gone and my mom and I barely drink it at all. His blood sugar level he said is at 102, but that was months ago that he checked. What can I tell him that might change his mind? He has absolutely no patience with me... he comes to me with stupid computer problems for this reason, before even taking a crack at them - he can't take a minute to think anything out, is that something caffeine might do, and sugar? I'm ready for a family intervention, but I'd love to quote a doctor, especially the type of professional this site seems to have a good number of. Someone told me that too much caffeine can make a body go into shock? THanks.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. Amit replied 7 years ago.
Hello Sammy. Welcome to JustAnswer. Yes the quantity you mentioned he is ingesting will quite likely affect his health in long term. Cola is nothing else than carbonated water with fructose syrup (pure carb calories). This will lead to he being predisposed to lot of health problems in long term if not in short. It will increase the risk of diabetes and obesity even metabolic syndrome. Specifically cola contains high levels of phosphoric acid which has been linked to kidney stones and other renal problems. A study has found that drinking two or more colas a day is linked to a 2 fold risk of chronic kidney disease. Further caffeine content definitely has ill effects like insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, and sinus tachycardia(high heart rate) when taken in such quantity. It also increases the excretion of calcium in urine, which increases the risk for osteoporosis and even fractures of bone, which is highly possible he being old. Dental caries,cavity formations, plaques are also common with chronic intake. Its also generally seen heavy cola drinkers tend to live less mobile lifestyles in general and being 59yrs old already, i think you should involve some senior relative of family in persuading him to leave such quantity of cola, in presence of such effects. Most prabably the easiest way for him is to taper the quantity and involve fruit juices or even health drinks , which will help him remove heavy cola intake from his normal lifestyle. Hope this helped. Regards
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
THank you! I'm sorry for the delay... for at least a half an hour no one replied, so I assumed it won't happen 'till now.
When you said '2 or more colas,' did you mean cans or 20 ounce bottles? And will the juice hopefully help him fight the caffeine addiction? I mean, I'm sure once the person is addicted, he'll find any excuse to live in denial... instead of pushing him to stop drinking coke, should we encourage juice then, or even - Coke Zero? Any other advice is hiiighly appreciated.
Expert:  Dr. Amit replied 7 years ago.
Hello Sammy, its nice that you got to see the answer. Actually sometimes in case of tricky/difficult queries or posting of query when comparitively less health experts are online, can lead to delay. That's why JustAnswer notifies the user with emails for his/her contant update.

Ok back to the issue. As regarding "2 or more colas" that study meant a normal 12ounce can. Going by about 8no. of 2L bottles /week as you said, it would be about 77ounces/day, way more than for risk association with chronic health issues.
AND diet coke(artificially sweetened) produced same results in study. So over all calories is not a issue with kidneys,but with getting overweight (and lot more heart disorders associated with being sedentary and overweight). Further Diet colas trying to avoid calories is fine but it often has lot more caffeine. 12oz can of DietCoke has approx 42mg of caffeine, 7mg more than the same amount of CokeClassic.So there is no point moving to DietCoke till one has mainly calorie issues except if its caffeine free (see label) .Further artifical sweetners like aspartame has lot more to do to health than sweeten the content, even though approved by FDA.
Just for your info, as regarding sugar content, 1 normal Can gives about 40mg of sugar or approx 10teaspoons(4g each of 15Calories..totalling 150Calories/Can).

I would stress here, addiction to caffeine (cola is a mild source)is not the only reason people take it ! Habbit, Advertising, availability are major factors here in almost everybody's case .You can read this well fact filled article

YES , he can no way outrightly stop it without caffeine withdrawl which will mainly present as HEADACHE, difficulty concentration, fatigue, drowsiness, "Unhappy" mood,or irritability or of course with issues with you and others stopping that. So withdrawal has to be slow mainly with displacement strategy and lifestyle changes. Believe me, the latter are important too else, after some time, it will be all same.

As regarding juices, see, you have to understand involving juices is like a displacement deaddiction & will not directly fight any caffeine addiction. Further they got tons of health benefits too. Thirst is also one of the common reason for take these beverages, so involving juice there is easily possible.
Caffeine free (check carefully) products like sprite and even cola i think are available, they can be switched to from normal cola and tapering the latter slowly over time.

One good thing you can do is to get him interested in drinking tea (green tea/intant) or even coffee (intant/decaffeinated)(not as addon but along with decreased cola intake). These though contain same or less amount of caffeine content has got some health benefits too like antioxidants,soluble dietary fiber (SDF) and comparitively lot better. This will help prevent with caffeine withdrawl problems. But you should remember both of these can be addicting too, because cause is same. So you have to take care of the amount and with anything >2 5oz cups of cofee/day(depending upon which type of coffee it is) presently, without any real cut on cola, you would be doing more harm to him over all and things like heartburn, constipation, etc alongwith (and i won't advise any caffeine tablet assisted withdrawl here in this case)
Here are few links you can check out for caffeine content of these and lot more :

Life style changes should involve
- Less sedentary work
- Avoiding fellow cola lovers and such parties
- Daily exercise (he is at risk for osteoporosis and other associated bone problems due to this and age),

Here is a nice rule for you, if you can track his intake -
Each week, you can help him cut back on the amount of caffeine by10-20%, without any withdrawl symtoms affecting him much.

Further, if possible, he can get a generalized health checkup done including blood glucose(this being frequently), just in case. He is old too, you have to understand (i know you do, still)

I hope i have tried to explain things for your easy understanding. I hope they help and your dad listens to you(explain him facts during a happy talk moment) and other elders you involve (just in case) and will be fine with this bad habit soon.
Good luck n Best Regards.

Edited by Dr. Amit on 11/9/2009 at 3:24 AM
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for this! I'm sorry it took me so long, I... must've missed the email telling me you replied, or it didn't come, or who knows. This is a lot of info, and I'll try to relay it to my dad!