Caffeine: the next nicotine?

If it’s not there for the taste, why is there caffeine in your soda? That’s what researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions wanted to know. According to SCIENCE DAILY MAGAZINE, only 8 percent of cola drinkers in Johns Hopkins’ study could taste the difference between caffeinated and caffeinate-free soda.

“The marketing parallels between nicotine and caffeine are pretty stunning,” says psychopharmacologist Roland Griffiths. “Both are psychoactive drugs. Until recently, cigarette companies denied that nicotine is addicting and said it was added merely as a flavor enhancer for cigarettes. The same is being said for caffeine.” But the study seems to render that explanation moot.

More sodas are downed than water, accounting for the more than double consumption of these fizzy elixirs since 1975. To account for the 15 billion gallons of soda consumed in 1998, the average American chugged the equivalent of 585 cans in those 12 months.