Coke Blinks


line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>This time it might be right, but it isn’t going to do the world’s best-known brand any good. It’s hurting from decreased domestic sales and smarting from the piles of evidence that soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are not only our biggest source of calories, but also among our most harmful. So it has struck back with a two-minute video whose ostensible message is that too many calories will make you fat (true), that those in Coke are no worse than any others (false), and that we’re all in this together (ridiculous).

The video is brilliantly executed. Its honeyed, heart-rending voice-over and stirring images — as American as a Chevy commercial — nearly caused me to go out and buy a case myself, as I recalled those innocent days of the ’50s and ’60s when Coke and cigarettes and Our Country and I were all (it seemed) young together, happy and happening and eating burgers and fries like there was no tomorrow. It took me back to when Coke was the real thing, it was “it,” we were teaching the world to sing together, and even Mean Joe Greene was just a cutie. There’s always been Coca-Cola.

depression) but by water. Even the not-exactly-radical American Heart Association recognizes that the amount of sugar in a Coke is probably the most added sugar people can safely tolerate daily, and our average intake is two to three times that.

In short, Coke wants to be part of the solution. Which is too bad for them, because one of the keys to avoiding diseases caused by metabolic syndrome (a syndrome that anyone — not only obese people — can develop[1] ) is to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

“Critics Jeer Coke’s Entrance Into Obesity Discussion” read a headline in a MediaPost blog. “The soda giant makes an awkward first stab at addressing obesity,” said AdWeek, which called the video  “shameless.” Among food and health writers, the response was mocking, perhaps best represented by Marion Nestle’s “Coca-Cola Fights Obesity? Oh, Please.”

the brilliant Real Bears animation of this past fall, which summed up the consequences of consuming excess sugar as well as anything I’ve ever seen or read. (What’s sadder than a cartoon bear losing a foot? The roughly 80,000 toe, foot and leg amputations a year undergone by diabetics.)

“honest Coca-Cola obesity ad,” a remix of the original Coke video. It seemed to appear within hours of “the real thing,” posted by someone calling himself John Pemberton (the name of Coke’s inventor), and included the line “Imagine if cigarette companies said they were doing something responsible to protect you. How would you react to that?” Exactly.

a campaign of lies, described in detail in this splendid piece by Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens.)


Those from fructose overwhelm the liver, forcing the pancreas to make more insulin and driving more energy into fat cells. And soda is nothing but a fructose delivery system.”[2]

tide of evidence, as demonstrated by a recent poll by The New England Journal of Medicine, in which 68 percent of nearly 1,300 respondents worldwide “favored government regulation of sugar-sweetened beverages.”[3]

The beverage companies see the writing on the wall and will lobby, cajole, beg, plead, propagandize, lie, spend and do anything else they have to do to prevent that regulation, just as the tobacco companies did. And chances are, in time, they’ll also accept regulation in the United States while aggressively increasing their marketing efforts overseas. But that won’t work either, because the word is out: Coke is not part of the solution. It’s a big part of the problem.

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