30-Year-Old Mom Died Due To 2-Gallon-A-Day Coca-Cola Habit

Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old mother of eight, died of a heart attack, and experts think it was probably caused by her habit of drinking more than two gallons of Coke per day. Coca-Cola, however, thinks it’s probably just because she drank too much liquid; even too much water can cause dramatic symptoms, they say.

Harris, who lived in New Zealand, died in February 2010, but it wasn’t until yesterday that pathologist Dan Mornin testified in an inquest that it was likely caused by her Coke-guzzling habit. He explained that excessive consumption of cola causes low potassium levels, or hypokalemia, whose symptoms can include abnormal heart rhythms; he also suspects that toxic levels of caffeine could have contributed to her death.

Harris’ partner, Chris Hodgkinson, said in a deposition that she was hooked on Coca-Cola, guzzling between eight and ten liters (2.1-2.8 gallons) per day:

The first thing she would do in the morning was to have a drink of Coke beside her bed and the last thing she would do at night was have a drink of Coke. She was addicted to Coke.

Clearly, this woman’s level of consumption was extreme (or at least, we hope it is), and Harris also testified that her other health habits were lacking (Hodgkinson also said she ate little and smoked over two packs a day), but it’s still worth considering the dangers of a regular Coca-Cola habit. According to pathologist Martin Sage, who also released statements for the deposition, this isn’t the first time that dramatic health symptoms have been linked to Coke:

…it is certainly well demonstrated that excessive long or short term cola ingestion can be dramatically symptomatic, and there are strong hypothetical grounds for this becoming fatal in individual cases.

But Coca-Cola doesn’t want you to worry; Karen Thompson, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Oceania, assures customers that this was Harris’ fault; not Coke’s:

We concur with the information shared by the coroner’s office that the grossly excessive ingestion of any food product, including water, over a short period of time with the inadequate consumption of essential nutrients, and the failure to seek appropriate medical intervention when needed, can be dramatically symptomatic.

Sure, overconsumption of water could kill you, but most people aren’t addicted to water to the point of drinking over two gallons a day (and using it to replace proper nutrition). What’s more, this isn’t the first time links have been made between Coca-Cola’s products and heart health issues; even for more moderate consumers, there are serious health risks associated with the product.

Photo: AP

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    • Not A Mom

      I don’t understand the purpose of this article. Is it to warn us about the dangers of consuming too much Coca Cola, or is it a general information piece, or is it some call to action to ban Coke?

      People need to take personal responsibility for their actions. It’s sad that this woman died so young, but really, she had horrible habits that contributed to her death. No one is pouring Coke down anyone’s throat, and millions a people a day consume Coke and it never leads to anything more than a burp or two.

      I hardly think this woman’s death is a start to a death by Coke epidemic.

      • Briana Rognlin

        I totally agree that people should take personal responsibility for their actions–as I said in the post, her lifestyle and nutrition were extreme–but I do think it’s important to realize that drinking tons of soda isn’t just “gross,” it’s dangerous.

      • jessica

        She was just like any addict. It just so happens she was addicted to Coke. It’s no different from being addicted to cocaine, marijuana or prescription drugs. She probably had psychological issues. Remember the oft repeated saying, “Drink or eat in moderation”. Coke should not be blamed.

    • Kelly

      How about the cigarettes?! I think those were a much bigger factor!
      I hope the judge dismisses this within a few seconds of the case landing on his desk. Shame on the boyfriend. Litigious idiot.

    • Laina

      This is so sad. I can’t even imagine what her insides looked like. Nothing against large families, but I’d probably be dead at 30 if I had 8 kids that young, too.


    • Tom Jones

      This is a sad sad story, but not surprising — have a look at something equally shocking. I have a link posted on my blog at toms411,wordpress.com…..

      share it with everyone you know that thinks their home is “safe”

    • patti

      She had EIGHT kids at age 30???? I guess it affects your fertility as well…

    • judy

      my husband-does this as well-but not 2 gallons a day ~ but he is sure hooked-on coca cola.

    • Ish Kabibble

      @ Jessica, drinking 2 or 3 gallons a day of anything is certainly not equal to being addicted to drugs. I do concur with you that Coca Cola has no blame in this woman’s death. She was not forced to drink their product at gun point. This same outcome could have happened if she drank 3 gallons of kool-aid or coffee every single day.

      People may have a few cans of soda daily, but if their daily intake increases to an amount that is considered dangerous they need help. Caffeine can be addictive, but you don’t typically hear about folks drinking 2 or 3 gallons of coffee daily! This woman certainly had issues that needed professional help to sort out. It’s sad that neither she, nor her significant other sought any out.