Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Mountain Dew Code Red Bad For You?



Short answer

Mountain Dew Code Red can be harmful if consumed in excess due to its high sugar content, caffeine, and presence of additives like Red 40 and BVO. The high sugar and fructose levels can contribute to obesity, dental issues, and metabolic disorders. Red 40 may cause hyperactivity in children and other health concerns, although conclusive evidence is lacking. BVO has potential health risks, such as neurological effects and thyroid disruption. Caffeine can cause side effects, particularly at high doses. Moderation is key, as is opting for healthier alternatives.



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Long answer

Sugar Content and Its Health Implications

One of the most notable concerns revolving around Mountain Dew Code Red is its sugar content. A standard 20-ounce bottle contains a staggering 77 grams of sugar, which is significantly above the American Heart Association's recommended daily intake of no more than 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women.

Excessive sugar intake is associated with a multitude of health issues. Here are some of the primary risks linked with the high sugar content found in drinks like Mountain Dew Code Red:

  • Dental Health: Sugary beverages are a leading contributor to tooth decay and cavities. The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar, producing acid that wears away enamel.
  • Weight Gain: The high-calorie content from sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity, which is a risk factor for a number of chronic diseases.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Regularly consuming sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to insulin resistance, which is a key component of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart Disease: Studies show that those who ingest more added sugar have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: The fructose in added sugars can overload the liver, potentially leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

It's imperative to note that the type of sugar used in Mountain Dew Code Red is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been linked to different metabolic issues when consumed in high amounts. Research indicates that HFCS can cause more significant weight gain and inflammation than other types of sugar, potentially because of the way fructose is metabolized in the liver.

For those who indulge in Mountain Dew Code Red occasionally, the sugar intake may not present immediate health concerns. However, it's when these sugary beverages become a regular part of one's diet that the risks escalate significantly. Consuming beverages with high sugar content on a frequent basis could have long-term adverse effects on one's health. This is especially concerning for children and adolescents who may be drawn to the beverage due to its vibrant color and sweet taste.

Substituting sugary drinks like Mountain Dew Code Red with healthier alternatives such as water, unsweetened tea, or milk can markedly reduce the risk of the aforementioned health issues. When in need of a flavored beverage, opting for ones sweetened with natural sources or non-caloric sweeteners can also be a better choice for health-conscious individuals.

In summary, while occasional consumption in small quantities is unlikely to cause harm, the high sugar content in Mountain Dew Code Red is a significant health consideration for frequent consumers. Understanding the implications of sugar consumption helps individuals make more informed decisions about their dietary choices.

Presence of Caffeine and Its Effects on the Body

Caffeine is one of the key components in Mountain Dew Code Red, like many other soft drinks. Understanding how caffeine impacts the body is essential for making informed choices about consumption. While caffeine is a widely accepted psychoactive substance known for its ability to increase alertness and provide a temporary boost in energy levels, its effects can vary greatly from person to person.

For most adults, moderate caffeine intake is considered relatively safe and can even have some beneficial effects, such as improved focus, enhanced sports performance, and a decreased risk of cognitive decline over time. However, the amount of caffeine in Mountain Dew Code Red might pose risks for certain individuals, particularly when consumed in large amounts.

Some potential side-effects of caffeine consumption include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive issues
  • Dependency and withdrawal symptoms

Studies indicate that excessive caffeine intake can lead to more severe health issues such as heart palpitations and could even contribute to increased risks of cardiovascular disease. For instance, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (2017) found that acute ingestion of high caffeine levels could lead to changes in heart rhythm.

What's more, individual tolerance to caffeine can depend on several factors, including genetics, age, weight, and existing medical conditions. As such, people with sensitivity to caffeine or who are taking certain medications might experience exacerbated side effects. It is always advisable for such individuals to consult with their healthcare provider before consuming beverages high in caffeine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and adolescents should avoid caffeine altogether, which is relevant when considering the demographic often drawn to sodas like Mountain Dew Code Red.

Each 12 ounce (354 ml) can of Mountain Dew Code Red contains approximately 54 milligrams of caffeine. To put this into context, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers 400 milligrams per day a safe caffeine intake level for most healthy adults. This is about the same amount of caffeine in four or five cups of coffee. Therefore, while a single can of Mountain Dew Code Red is well below this threshold, multiple cans could easily bring an individual closer to or exceed the recommended safe amount, especially when combined with other caffeinated foods, drinks, or medications.

Monitoring your intake of caffeine and understanding its potential effects is critical when it comes to maintaining overall health and preventing side effects. By being mindful of how much Mountain Dew Code Red you consume, you help ensure that you're enjoying the beverage without overloading your body with caffeine.

Artificial Dyes: Red 40 and Health Concerns

When examining the potential health impact of Mountain Dew Code Red, it's essential to scrutinize the artificial dyes it contains, particularly Red 40. Red 40, also known as Allura Red AC, is a synthetic food dye commonly used in beverages, processed foods, and candies to enhance their visual appeal. Despite its prevalence in the food industry, Red 40 has raised concerns among consumers and health advocates for its potential health effects.

Research has shed light on several key issues associated with the consumption of artificial dyes like Red 40:

  • Hyperactivity in Children: A notable study published in The Lancet suggested a possible link between the consumption of artificial colors and increased hyperactivity in some children. While conclusions are cautious and further investigation is called for, parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often advised to monitor and limit intake of artificial food colors, including Red 40.
  • Allergic Reactions: There have been anecdotal reports of allergic reactions to Red 40 resulting in symptoms such as hives and swelling. However, these reactions are considered rare, and the evidence is not yet sufficient to establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
  • Cancer Risk: Animal studies have raised the question of whether Red 40 might be carcinogenic, with some research showing the development of tumors in mice. However, results from animal studies cannot be directly extrapolated to humans, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently considers Red 40 to be safe for human consumption within the accepted daily intake levels.

The FDA sets a maximum daily intake for Red 40 at 3.2 mg/kg of body weight per day. Consuming Mountain Dew Code Red and other products containing Red 40 occasionally and within these limits would likely pose minimal risk to most people. However, exceeding these recommendations on a regular basis could potentially heighten the risk of experiencing the aforementioned concerns and others yet to be fully understood.

Additionally, it is worth noting that individual sensitivity to artificial dyes varies greatly. Some people may experience adverse reactions even when consuming small amounts of Red 40. Those with known sensitivities should avoid products containing this dye or consume them with caution.

As with many dietary components, moderation is key. Health professionals recommend prioritizing the consumption of natural whole foods to minimize exposure to artificial dyes and other additives. For those looking to avoid these substances altogether, seeking out products labeled as "dye-free" or "no artificial colors" can guide consumer choices.

Continued research and debate persist regarding the safety of Red 40 and other artificial dyes. Staying informed about the latest findings and alert to changes in dietary recommendations helps consumers make more conscious decisions about their intake of such additives. Meanwhile, those with ongoing concerns about artificial dyes may choose to err on the side of caution by reducing consumption or avoiding them where possible.

Citric Acid and Its Effect on Dental Health

Mountain Dew Code Red, like many other sodas, contains citric acid, a natural preservative that adds a tangy taste and helps to enhance the flavor profile of the beverage. While citric acid is commonly used in many food and drink products, its effects on dental health are a significant concern that warrants closer examination.

Firstly, citric acid has a low pH, which makes it highly acidic. The acidity of a substance is measured on the pH scale, where lower numbers indicate higher acidity. Frequent exposure to acidic drinks can lead to dental erosion, which is the gradual loss of tooth enamel. Enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth, and once it's damaged, it cannot regenerate.

Several studies have linked acidic beverages to an increased risk of enamel erosion. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Dentistry highlighted that erosion was more prevalent in individuals who consumed acidic drinks regularly. Here's a simplified breakdown of how citric acid affects teeth:

  • Acidic Environment: Citric acid lowers the pH level in the mouth, creating an acidic environment that can weaken tooth enamel.
  • Enamel Erosion: Over time, the weakened enamel may begin to erode, leading to a rough, uneven appearance on the tooth surface.
  • Increase in Cavities: Eroded enamel can be more susceptible to cavities, as it's less effective at protecting the inner layers of the tooth from bacterial decay.
  • Sensitivity Issues: As the enamel wears away, teeth may become more sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks due to the exposure of the underlying dentin.

Furthermore, the American Dental Association has expressed concerns regarding acidic drinks, emphasizing the importance of dental hygiene in preventing erosion. The ADA suggests that individuals who consume acidic drinks should do so with a meal, which can help neutralize acids, and rinse with water afterward to reduce the acid exposure to the enamel.

It's not just the citric acid in Mountain Dew Code Red that contributes to the potential for dental health issues. The combination of citric acid with high sugar content can be particularly harmful, as sugar can feed harmful bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria produce acids as they digest the sugar, further contributing to the acidic environment that threatens dental health.

In conclusion, while citric acid is a common food additive, its inclusion in high-acidity beverages like Mountain Dew Code Red can have a detrimental effect on dental health, particularly if consumed in large amounts. This is especially true when paired with poor oral hygiene habits. Consumers should be mindful of their intake and practice diligent oral care, including regular brushing and flossing, to mitigate these risks.

Mountain Dew Code Red and the Obesity Link

Understanding the connection between sugary soft drinks like Mountain Dew Code Red and obesity is crucial for making informed dietary decisions. The seductive sweetness of Code Red comes at a caloric cost, and these empty calories are one of the culprits behind weight gain and obesity. It's not just the sugar; the high-fructose corn syrup used as a sweetener is metabolized differently than other sugars, potentially leading to increased fat deposition, especially in the abdominal area.

A standard 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew Code Red contains a staggering amount of sugar, often exceeding the entire recommended daily sugar intake in just one serving. Consuming such high-sugar beverages leads to a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, followed by an inevitable crash. This rollercoaster effect on blood sugar not only fuels cravings but also contributes to the development of insulin resistance over time, a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The body's response to the flood of sugar from a can of Code Red is immediate. Insulin levels surge as the body attempts to process the sugar influx, directing it towards energy use or storage as fat. Regular consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to an increased percentage of visceral fat, the dangerous type of fat stored around the internal organs and associated with a higher risk of metabolic diseases.

Moreover, the high caloric content of such drinks doesn't provide satiety in the way solid foods do. Hence, liquid calories are often additional to the regular caloric intake rather than a substitute, which contributes to a caloric surplus and, eventually, weight gain. Studies have repeatedly linked the intake of sugary soft drinks with obesity. For instance, a research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that persons who consume sugary drinks like Mountain Dew Code Red regularly have a 27% higher likelihood of becoming overweight or obese compared to non-consumers.

Correlational research also suggests a link between soft drink consumption and childhood and adolescent obesity, which can have long-term health implications. A study by the Journal of Pediatrics identified regular consumption of sugar-laden drinks in children as a significant predictor of increased body fat and obesity.

Notably, aside from obesity, the excessive sugar intake associated with beverages like Code Red is also implicated in other health issues such as dental cavities, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, making its consumption a broader health concern.

It's also important to consider the context in which these drinks are consumed. Sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical activity, and poor overall diet quality can exacerbate the obesity-inducing effects of high-sugar drinks.

In summary, Mountain Dew Code Red's high sugar content can significantly contribute to weight gain and obesity, particularly when consumed in large amounts and in tandem with other unhealthy lifestyle choices. This relationship is underpinned by both the calorie-laden nature of the drink and the body's hormonal responses to sugar intake.

Potential Health Risks of BVO (Brominated Vegetable Oil)

Brominated Vegetable Oil, or BVO, is a controversial ingredient often found in citrus-flavored sodas, including varieties like Mountain Dew Code Red. It is added to prevent separation of water from the citrus oils and enhances the emulsion of flavors. However, BVO has been linked to several potential health risks that consumers should be aware of.

One of the primary concerns regarding BVO is its classification as a brominated compound. These compounds are associated with the element bromine, which can be found in a number of flame retardant materials. The resemblance in chemical structure raises questions about the safety of BVO when ingested over time. It's important to note that:

  • Brominated compounds have been linked to neurological issues, including memory loss and impaired motor skills.
  • There is evidence to suggest that excessive consumption of BVO can lead to a build-up in the body, potentially causing toxic effects.
  • Research indicates that the bromine from BVO can displace iodine, which is essential for a healthy thyroid function, possibly leading to thyroid dysregulation.

In animal studies, prolonged intake of brominated compounds has been shown to cause reproductive and behavioral issues. While these findings may not directly translate to humans, they indicate a possible risk that warrants caution and further research. For instance:

  • A study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health noted changes in heart tissue of rats who were fed large doses of BVO over an extended period.
  • Several case reports in medical literature, such as one detailed in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, have linked excessive BVO consumption to negative health effects in humans, including skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve disorders.

Due to these concerns, BVO has been the subject of regulatory scrutiny. It is no longer approved for use in the European Union and Japan. In the United States, the FDA considers BVO an 'interim food additive', a status reflecting uncertainty about its safety and the need for further evaluation.

While occasional consumption of beverages containing BVO, such as Mountain Dew Code Red, is unlikely to lead to immediate health issues for the majority of individuals, awareness of its potential accumulative effects is critical. Moderation is key, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions or sensitivities may be advised to avoid products containing BVO altogether.

Given the ongoing debates about the safety of BVO, it is essential to stay informed through reliable sources and current scientific research on the subject. Consulting with healthcare professionals can provide personalized advice and guidance regarding the inclusion of BVO-containing products in one’s diet.

Comparing Mountain Dew Code Red to Other Sugary Drinks

When assessing the health impact of Mountain Dew Code Red, a comparative analysis with other popular sugary drinks provides context for its nutritional content and potential health implications. Understanding how Code Red stacks up against its counterparts gives consumers valuable insight into their dietary choices.

Sugar Content Comparison:

One of the primary concerns with sugary drinks is their high sugar content, which can lead to various health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and dental cavities. Here's how Mountain Dew Code Red compares to other sugary beverages:

  • Coca-Cola: A 12 oz can contains about 39 grams of sugar.
  • Pepsi: A similar 12 oz serving holds roughly 41 grams of sugar.
  • Sprite: A 12 oz can has around 38 grams of sugar.
  • Mountain Dew (Original): Contains approximately 46 grams of sugar per 12 oz.
  • Mountain Dew Code Red: A 12 oz serving has about 46 grams of sugar, mirroring its original counterpart.

As seen in the list, Mountain Dew Code Red boasts a high sugar content comparable to its original version and significantly higher than some other popular sodas. This indicates that regular consumption could pose similar health risks associated with high sugar intake.

Artificial Additives and Dyes:

Another aspect to consider is the presence of artificial additives, such as colorings and preservatives. Mountain Dew Code Red includes additives like Red 40, which has been a point of contention among health advocates.

  • Red 40: Found in many processed foods, Red 40 is linked to hyperactivity in children and potential cancer risk, though current research is inconclusive and regulatory agencies maintain it is safe at the levels used in food products.
  • Other Sodas: Different brands might use caramel color, blue 1, yellow 5, among others, each with their own debated health risks.

Comparatively, Code Red's use of Red 40 puts it in a similar position to other artificially colored drinks. These concerns highlight the importance of moderation, particularly in children's diets, and call for consumer awareness when choosing such beverages.

Caffeine Levels:

Many consumers overlook caffeine when considering sugary drinks. However, caffeine content is an essential factor, especially for individuals sensitive to its effects. Here's a brief comparison:

  • Mountain Dew Code Red: It contains about 54 mg of caffeine per 12 oz.
  • Regular Mountain Dew: Similarly, it possesses about 54 mg of caffeine per 12 oz.
  • Coca-Cola: Has a lower caffeine content of around 34 mg per 12 oz.
  • Pepsi: Contains slightly more at roughly 38 mg per 12 oz.
  • Non-cola Sodas: Typically have less caffeine; for example, Sprite is caffeine-free.

Mountain Dew Code Red's caffeine content makes it one of the more caffeinated soft drinks on the market, alongside its original formula. For those monitoring their caffeine intake, it's worth noting that this beverage might contribute significantly to daily consumption levels.

Overall, the comparison showcases that while Mountain Dew Code Red shares several nutritional downsides with other sugary beverages—namely high sugar content and the inclusion of artificial additives—it stands out for its caffeine level. It's essential for consumers to recognize these attributes when making informed choices about their beverage consumption.

Frequently asked questions

Natural alternatives like infused water with fresh fruits, homemade iced herbal teas sweetened with honey, or smoothies using whole fruits can satisfy sweet cravings without the artificial additives and high sugar content found in Mountain Dew Code Red.

Switching to diet sodas can reduce sugar and calorie intake, potentially mitigating risks associated with weight gain and metabolic issues. However, diet sodas may still contain additives like caffeine and artificial sweeteners, the long-term effects of which remain under study. It's important to consume these in moderation and be aware of the broader health implications.

High-fructose corn syrup is metabolized primarily in the liver, where it can lead to increased fat production and storage. This differs from how the body metabolizes glucose and could contribute to health issues like obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease when consumed in large amounts.

Occasional consumption of Mountain Dew Code Red in moderate amounts is not likely to cause immediate harm to most healthy adults. However, even infrequent indulgence should be balanced with an overall healthy diet and lifestyle to minimize potential risks from additives and high sugar content.

Ask a question about Mountain Dew Code Red and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased heart rate
  • elevated blood pressure
  • anxiety and nervousness
  • sleep disturbances
  • digestive issues
  • tooth decay
  • weight gain

Possible long-term side effects

  • obesity
  • insulin resistance
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (nafld)
  • dental erosion
  • caffeine dependency
  • hyperactivity
  • allergic reactions
  • tooth decay
  • cancer risk
  • neurological issues
  • thyroid dysregulation
  • increased body fat
  • hormonal responses to sugar intake
  • reproductive and behavioral issues

Ingredients to be aware of

  • high fructose corn syrup (hfcs)
  • caffeine
  • artificial dyes (red 40)
  • brominated vegetable oil (bvo)
  • citric acid


  • increased alertness
  • temporary energy boost
  • improved focus
  • enhanced sports performance
  • decreased risk of cognitive decline

Healthier alternatives

  • water
  • unsweetened tea
  • milk
  • drinks sweetened with natural sources or non-caloric sweeteners
  • dye-free or 'no artificial colors' labeled products

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Mountain Zevia Soda

  • Zero Calorie Drink
  • No Artificial Sweeteners
  • Clear and Crisp Flavor
  • Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Sugar-Free
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-23-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-23-2024

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