Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coca-Cola strikes back.

I live in Manhattan, where Mayor Bloomberg fought and won a battle to ban sugared sodas larger than 16 ounces.  (Lerner, 2012)  Now all the soda delivery trucks in the neighborhood have a billboard on the back that says – “Don’t let bureaucrats tell you what size beverage to buy.”  Whenever I see one, I fantasize about spray painting over the message – “Preserve your right to kill yourself by drinking too much soda!”

At this point you’d have to be in major denial (or not too bright) to not know about the health issues that have emerged for 2/3 of our population due to the consumption of too many calories.  Recent studies have pointed the finger squarely at sugared beverages.  Sugar-sweetened drinks are the single largest source of calories in our diet and account for 7% of our total calories while providing no nutritional value at all.  (Brody, 2012). 

I have found myself wondering why we aren’t just banning them outright, and have reached the sad conclusion that their low cal substitutes must be even more unhealthy than they are.  In fact, studies have suggested that Diet Coke sucks the potassium out of your body.  (Phillips, 2010).  So there’s no easy solution here.

But, with more than a few people recommending that we now fight soda consumption with the same multifaceted approach that has been used to reduce cigarette smoking it seems clear that change is on the horizon.  So it’s no wonder that Coca-Cola has decided to react.  They’ve posted two commercials on YouTube and quite frankly I find them to be very rational.  They point out that the company is giving consumers the freedom to make their own choices.  In fact, as someone commented perhaps they should make their new tagline:  “Coca-Cola:  It’s not our fault that you’re fat.”  (Forbes, 2013)  Needless to say they’re unlikely to make any meaningful contribution to the fight against obesity.  Here they are in case you missed them.

On the other hand, there was a much more interesting editorial about the situation in the New York Times last week, pointing out that celebrities who would never dream of promoting cigarettes are thrilled to push soda.  Are you listening Beyonce?  (Bittman, 2013)

Just like with cigarettes the first step is to make drinking soda uncool.  I like that approach and hope that someone chooses to support it.  Which celebrity will step up first to do the right thing?

Lerner, G. (2012, September 14)  New York health board approves ban on large sodas.  Retrieved  January 16, 2013, from

Brody, J. (2012, October 23)  In Fighting Obesity, Drink Sizes Matter.  New York Times. pD7

Phillips, K.  (2010, January 2)  Hypokalemia: Low Potassium. Retrieved  January 16, 2013, from

Forbes, T.  (2013, January 15)  Critics Jeer Coke’s Entrance Into Obesity Discussion.  Retrieved  January 16, 2013, from

Bittman, M. (2013, January 5)  Why Do Stars Think It’s OK to Sell Soda?  Retrieved  January 16, 2013, from

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