Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Coke calculator's calorie burners

Online tool lists the exercise needed to work off sugary drinks - but it's not as guilt free as it seems.

The online calculator lists the exercise needed to work off sugary drinks - buit is not as guilt free as it seems. Photo / Greg Bowker
The online calculator lists the exercise needed to work off sugary drinks - buit is not as guilt free as it seems. Photo / Greg Bowker

Feel like a can of Coke? Seventy minutes of ironing should burn it off. A calculator launched by Coca-Cola in Britain aims to help soft drink consumers justify the indulgence by coming up with some "unusual, fun and interesting ways" of balancing it out.

However, it's not as guilt-free as it seems. A well-known New Zealand-based nutritionist warns that it focuses solely on cancelling out calories which impact on weight and disregards other health negatives linked to the drinks.

The Work It Out calculator was developed by the beverage giant's British arm in conjunction with an expert in exercise physiology and sports performance, Dr Greg Whyte, and the figures are calculated based on the energy expenditure of a female weighing 60kg.

Click here to go to the 'Work It Out' calculator.

It tells you 17 minutes of Zumba will make the 139 calories from a 330ml can of Coke disappear, as will a fast nine-minute run, a 10-minute boxing session or 14 minutes of salsa dancing. Cherry Coca-Cola and Sprite have been identified as the most calorie-laden beverages so require more effort to ease your weight-conscious mind.

Those opting for the Coke Zero or Diet Coke can just stay put on the couch, according to the calculator, which says no work is required to burn off the 0.05 calories in a can.

Surprisingly, Sprite Zero requires slightly more effort be put in to dissolve the four calories - a one-minute ski, ice skate or two minutes paddling a canoe should do the trick.

There are also options for Fanta lovers, Powerade drinkers, Glaceau Vitaminwater connoisseurs and even those fancying a Schweppes Indian Tonic.

Healthy Food Guide nutritionist Claire Turnbull said while the calculator was correct in terms of what it took to burn the calories, it didn't take into account any other factors which could be detrimental to health. The fewer sugary drinks consumed the better, she said.

"It's not good for you to have that much acid, it's not good for your teeth, it's not good for your stomach whether they've got sugar in or not. Even though Coke Zero doesn't have any sugar in it, it doesn't mean it's good for [you] it just means it doesn't take as long to burn off as the other ones."

She said comparison calculators were helpful in highlighting the difference in calories between beverages but shouldn't become a justification tool, because calories could be spent on better quality foods.

The application is targeted at the British market and some drinks listed are not available in New Zealand.

Coca-Cola NZ's website provides a more generic hydration and energy counter. The serving sizes also differ, as a Coca-Cola can in NZ is 355ml compared to 330ml in Britain.

A Coca-Cola NZ spokeswoman said the calculator could be used to update information on the company's website here. "Education is a key factor in helping people make informed decisions."

- NZ Herald

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