If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times. Sugary beverages are bad for you. Studies have shown that they increase the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And a 2013 study found that they are linked to 180,000 deaths worldwide. Still, we can't seem to get enough of them.
It doesn't help that most of us don't have any frame of reference for the amount of sugar that's in those sweetened concoctions. Are the 77 grams of sugar in a bottle of Mountain Dew a lot or a little?
When New Zealand-based artist and food photographer Henry Hargreaves heard a health professional describe sugary sodas as the "cigarettes of our generation," he decided to create a way to visually represent the amount of sugar in different beverages. The best way to accomplish this goal, he decided, was to boil off the liquid and make a mold — a lollipop mold — of the sugar left behind. Because, really, that's all you'll find in most sugary beverages: water, sugar and a handful of dyes and flavorings.
"After all, I figure that’s what you’re essentially getting: candy in costume as a soft drink," said Hargreaves on his website.
With his series, called "(de)hydrate," Hargreaves shows viewers exactly what they're getting when they toss down a sugary drink.
"Pretty much all of the lollipop moulds I made overflowed," Hargreaves told the BBC. "Mountain Dew was the punchiest at 77g (2.7oz) of sugar and it made this enormous amount of liquid at the end. You look at this and it is just the most unappetising gunk."
His series includes popular sodas as well as drinks more often categorized as "healthy," like Vitamin Water and Powerade.
Here is what the 13 grams of sugar in a Vitamin Water look like as a lollipop. (Photo: Henry Hargreaves)
Even a 'healthy' drink like Powerade still contains seven grams of sugar per serving. (Photo: Henry Hargreaves)