How Much Sugar Is Actually In Soda?

Content Producer

I'm not a coffee person, I'm a lollipop person.

That statement makes no sense, right? But if you think about soda or other soft drinks the way New Zealand photographer, Henry Hargreaves, thinks – that statement might become a little clearer.

I’m still in my mid-twenties, which means I haven’t been in the workforce for a terribly long time. I always thought that the cure to early mornings was fresh brewed coffee or maybe tea if you’re a Brit. But observing some people I work with, past and present, I've found their go-to morning beverage is a can of soda or an energy drink.

But, where is all that energy coming from?

Caffeine is certainly a factor but how much sugar are we actually consuming when we reach for the can instead of the brew?

After hearing a health professional describe soda as “the cigarettes of our generation”, Hargreaves wanted to visually represent how much sugar was actually in soda as well as other drinks that have been marketed as “health” or “sports” drinks.

“I decided to do an experiment to show what’s in soft drinks after the water is boiled away — in other words, dehydrating the hydrator. Once boiled, I took each remaining substance and poured it into a lollipop mold. After all, I figure that’s what you’re essentially getting: candy in costume as a soft drink.”

Sugar, and sugar in soda is speculated to be a major contributor to chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, people who consume sugary drinks regularly – about 1 to 2 cans a day or more – have a 26 percent greater likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

Let's be real. I know you didn't really look at that graph. How much do numbers and facts really motivate us to quit bad habits like soda? What does drinking those soft drinks actually look like? Henry Hargreaves’ photographs say it all and may be what we need to see to kick the habit once and for all.

Click on the image to see each photograph in better quality.

From left to right, soft drinks as lollipops: Zico, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Mountain Dew.

To see how this piece was done, check out the video, below. It’s pretty crazy.

The most gag-worthy discovery Hargreaves found? “[I]f you took the lollipops and put them into contact with water they became the drinks again”.

BRB giving up soft drinks, forever.

To see more of Henry Hargreaves’ artwork, check out his website.