This infographic claims that the sugar content in a can of Coca Cola would cause vomiting if not for the phosphoric acid.

enter image description here

  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.

Now this question came up on skeptics.SE and the remaining question is whether (flavourless) water with sugar would cause vomiting. Very specifically we're talking about 200ml of final concentration and 39 grams of sugar. I would try it out myself, but per the rules of skeptics.SE I am not allowed to do this so I am posting it as a question here.

  • $\begingroup$ No, we've had a 2M (360 g/ 1000 ml = .36 g/mL) glucose in water solution for a lab in Molecular Genetics and nobody threw up, even if it was unpleasant to drink. In 200 mL of water my solution would contain 72 g of sugar. I'd put his in an answer but I have no other evidence but personal experience and we only had a mouthwash cup full but it was of multiple different concentrations of the sugar water. $\endgroup$
    – SolarLunix
    Jul 31, 2015 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ By sugar, you mean sucrose, right? $\endgroup$
    Aug 1, 2015 at 9:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Well, very technically speaking you will find 'high fructose corn syrup' in traditional Coca Cola apparently. $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2015 at 13:42
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Why in heaven's name would phosphoric acid prevent vomiting if this claim were true? Infographics are about as accurate an memes. $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2015 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


Sugar (be it sucrose, glucose, fructose or honey) does not have emetic properties in any concentration, unless there is a personal (and highly individual) psychological adverse reaction to sweet substances. enter image description here

Sugar is not a local gastric irritant (like dishwashing detergent, or syrup of ipecac, copper sulphate, zinc sulphate; yellow mercuric sulphate, ammonium carbonate, powdered mustard and other local gastric irritants.) Some non-irritating substances (e.g. cod liver oil) may induce emesis because of a repugnant smell, taste, or texture. Few people find the taste of sugar repugnant. Gastric distension to the point of emesis does not occur with 12 or 16 oz. of fluid.

Psychological causes of vomiting include aversions (e.g. some people vomit when they see someone else vomit.) That would involve a cerebral cortex mechanism.

No sugar of any concentration is listed here as an emetic. If it were true, we would have a much less significant incidence of obesity.


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