Kathy O’Sullivan’s addiction to fizzy drinks has made her so anaemic she needed three blood transfusions and she now fears her 2,400 calorie-a-day habit could kill her.
The Mum of three from Portsmouth, guzzles six litres of Coca Cola every day – containing a total of 163 teaspoons of sugar - and gets severe withdrawal symptoms which leave her in agony if she doesn't get her fix.
She is at an even higher risk as she was born with only one kidney, fears her addiction could kill her but she is unable to stop. She is now pinning her hopes on hypnotherapy.
I have tried to stop and go cold turkey. But within hours I am getting cold sweats and shaking', the call centre worker, who has already lost three teeth due to her habit, said. 'My addiction is shocking and it is ruining my life. I drink six litres every day and always have a bottle with me.'
The divorcee spoke out about her addiction after dancer and former Brookside actress Jennifer Ellison told of how she needed urgent treatment for crippling headaches after giving up an eight a day Coca Cola can habit on ITV ‘s Sugar Free Farm. It also comes at a time when drinks company has vowed to look at sugar levels in the drink.
Kathy said: ‘Coca Cola addiction is just not taken seriously enough by doctors. People have no idea just how dangerous such an addiction is. I want to warn people how a Coca Cola habit can creep up on you and how it can take over your life.’
Kathy, who has three children – Tiffany, 21, Tiegan, 18 and Tyler, 13 - began drinking the sugary treat when she was just 13 years old. But she didn’t realise just how dangerous her consumption was until she was pregnant with her youngest child.
‘I was severely anaemic and my midwife said it was because I was drinking Coca Cola instead of eating properly', she said.‘Then shortly after my son’s birth I was investigated for stomach cramps and found out I had been born with only one kidney. Doctors were horrified at the amount of Coca Cola I drank as it was putting a strain on my remaining kidney and causing infections.’
Despite the warnings about the risk to her health Kathy continued drinking Coca Cola – which now costs her around £2,000 a year. Each 1litre bottle of Coke contains 400 calories and around 27 teaspoons of sugar. The recommended amount of calories a day for a woman is 2,000 calories and the World Health Organisation says the amount of added sugar an average woman should consume is less than six teaspoons a day.
Kathy says: 'Over the years I have collapsed where I am so anaemic and have had three blood transfusions. I know I don’t eat properly. While I am continually burping because I am so full of gas, I just don’t feel hungry. The problem is all the calories in the Coca Cola fills me up.
‘I am a normal weight – around nine stones – but my diet is terrible. I have to force myself to eat because I fill myself up with fizzy drink all the time. And while you might imagine all that sugar gives me lots of energy I feel permanently drained and tired.'
Meanwhile, she has needed to have three teeth extracted because the high sugar content has rotted them away. ‘My dentist says my teeth are badly discoloured and the enamel is eroded by all the sugar. He says if I can’t stop I need to drink Coke through a straw but I just don’t enjoy drinking it that way.’
Kathy has tried swapping ordinary Coca Cola for a diet version. ‘But it isn’t a substitute. I don’t like the taste and I miss the sugar rush of regular Coke,’ she said. She has also visited her GP ‘numerous times.’
She recalls: ‘My GP gave me some caffeine tablets but they made no difference at all. Other advice to cut down and replace my fizzy drinks with water is just impossible. ‘If I were a drug addict or alcoholic I would be getting proper help and support but drinking so much Coke just doesn’t seem to be seen as a proper addiction. There is just doesn’t seem to be any help available on the NHS.’
She added: ‘Luckily my children don’t drink Coke – I think I have put them off. But many people see it as funny that I always have a bottle of Coke by my side rather than serious.' As a last resort Kathy is now about to undergo hypnosis.
‘I am just praying it will work,’ she said, ‘but meanwhile I want to raise awareness of this nightmare. I am terrified my Coke addiction will eventually kill me. And I want others to be aware how quickly this sort of habit can ruin your life.’
I was in similar situation, I rarely drank water, always drinking coca cola. Anytime I feel hungry, once i take coke am filled rather than eating proper meal. All I did was to stop buying coca cola and switched to lemonade drink. It was difficult for me to drink water. But fortunately this year, My resolution was to drink as much water as needed daily. Now I'm free from cola cola addiction...water all the way. But my water has to be bottled water.