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Bitterness of sugar will soon spoil the party

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By Nevanji Madanhire

The turf war between the country’s two major producers of carbonated drinks have brought sweetness to many Zimbabweans but the same sweetness will sooner rather than later manifest in the bitterness of a long list of health conditions that result from the overconsumption of sugar.

In a country where every fizzy, be it Cream Soda, Raspberry or Fanta, came to be known as Coca-Cola, it was always going to be difficult for any competitor to penetrate the market. Coca-Cola or simply Coke, the flagship non-alcoholic beverage of Delta Beverages, has grown to be one of the world’s strongest brands. Introduced to Zimbabwe in 1948 it has a quaint history among indigenous people. Always out of reach of the poor, whenever someone got hold of a bottle it would be shared among the whole family, each getting at least a bottle-top full. It was magic only fit for the white man, like ambrosia was for the gods of Mt Olympus.

Not anymore! Now everyone can afford a Coke or any other non-alcoholic beverage for that matter, courtesy of the competition posed by newcomer Pepsi Zimbabwe whose drinks include Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Seven-Up, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Lemon, Mountain Dew, Seven-Up Evervess Soda and Sting. Pepsi is taking Coke head on while the other flavours are grappling with Delta’s Sprite, Pine Nut, Stone Ginger Beer, Fanta and Sparletta in its different guises. All these have sugar contents of up to 33%.

At face value that’s not such a bad thing because of the price competitiveness. A standard bottle of Coke goes for US50c, while a Family size bottle is a dollar. Now Delta has a 2-litre bottle that goes for US$2. Not to be outdone a litre of Pepsi goes for a dollar and its smaller packages are a dollar for two or four.

Majority Zimbabweans in urban areas spend most of the day in the sun hustling and now they have cheap access to these drinks drinking an average of 2L daily. Children too love these highly addictive drinks and have easy access.

But here is the problem, and this is why Zimbabwe is sitting on a time bomb. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends consuming no more than six teaspoons of added sugar daily. But by drinking just one serving of fizzy a day, a person will easily exceed this amount. A 2015 WHO study attributed 184 000 global deaths each year to the consumption of sugary drinks.

According to experts, sugary beverages are linked to a long list of adverse health effects, starting with obesity, poor blood sugar control and diabetes. Recent studies have found an association with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. A carbonated beverage can serve as an acid load, which can raise gastric acid volume. This wreaks havoc on your stomach lining and often results in heartburn and further acid reflux symptoms. Sugary drinks contain fructose which can only be metabolised by the liver. When one consumes too much fructose, the liver becomes overloaded and turns the fructose into fat, hence obesity. Studies have shown that sugary drinks are also linked to kidney diseases, and poor dental and skin health.

Both manufacturers have Coke Zero and Pepsi Zero, which they claim have zero sugar but have artificial sweeteners. But experts say there is nothing zero about these because they pose health risks too including an increased risk of stroke, heart disease or death.

When the Ministry of Health starts to grapple with an upsurge of these health conditions in a few years’ time, the beverage manufacturers will be nowhere to be found. We are already beginning to see obese schoolchildren with rotting teeth!

Nevanji Madanhire is AMH Head of the Investigations Unit.

In Conversation with Senator David Coltart

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While our team has been on a break we decided to rebroadcast some of your favourite episodes. Former Treasure General of MDC Alliance (Now CCC), Senator David Coltart discusses his political journey,his book (The struggle continues; 50 years of Tyranny) and possible solutions to ending political strife in Zimbabwe. Watch his episode here..

Audience Responses

From the Senator David Coltart episode, our community had this to say:

@innocentmapindu6352:
A humble man, with a broader perspective to life issues…thank you for bringing this conversation.
@garywucherpfennig242:
Lots has changed since 2019. We need a part 2 interview @Trevor
@b1nice923:
Very informative interview but l think it’s important to put dates and explain in the caption that this is a repeat interview. For future viewers aswell it helps to know when this interview was recorded.
@Pp-uv8qe:
We need a leadership change in CCC party. We are so tired of same leadership that focuses on rigging other than looking at other things like what can the party do to improve. What Chamisa has done to reassure people of Zimbabwe that he would lead a government that has people at heart. Look at Tete Tilda she works extremely hard to serve communities, all hear Chamisa talking about is he wants to win elections he needs to show that he can bring a positive change to the community. Even providing 4 or 5 hospital beds to a children ward which is faith with practice, l know people will disagree with me, fine but believe me unless there is a leadership change in CCC which has shown that they could not work together as MDC party wait for another loss in 2028 elections, l am a pro CCC supporter but it pains me that we are just focusing on one thing. We need a strong leadership like Tsvangirai look back at Tsvangirai’s approach

Coming Next: In Conversation with Henry Bindu

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Don’t miss the next episode with Founder & CEO of Real Man Talk & Extreme Fitness Total Body Gym Henry Bindu In Conversation with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
down with various high-profile guests in a series of candid,
conversations that seeks to go beyond the headlines
and beyond the sensational.

Book of the Week

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The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart

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yours on Amazon

Recommended Reading:

The Genius Of One

by Greg Holder


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