Will New Coke Ads Address Obesity Epidemic?

01/25/2013

Coca-Cola will begin to air two-minute advertisements during some of the highest rated shows on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. The ads are in response to the growing pressure being put on the industry as a result of obesity. See the first one below:

The ads talk about Coke’s record of providing drinks with fewer calories while establishing that weight gain comes from eating too many calories of any kind, not just in the form of a sugary beverage, according to MyFoxDC

Coke photoMichael Jacobson, executive director for the Center For Science in the Public Interest, isn't so convinced.

"It looks like a page out of damage control 101," he said. "They're trying to disarm the public," he said on MyFoxDC.

According to the story, another ad, which will run during American Idol and the Super Bowl, talks about all the ways to burn the 140 calories in a serving of the beverage, including dancing and walking the dog. It's a "happy 140 calories," according to the soda giant. 

Placing Blame

The industry has been blamed in part for increasing rates of obesity and weight-related illness. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked the USDA to ban residents who receive food stamps from using them to purchase soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Although the ban was denied, it meant one of the first direct attacks on the industry. 

New York City is also considering capping the size of soda beverages to 16 ounces, which would mean another blow to the industry. 

Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

I wrote that sugar sweetened beverages have also been tied to weight gain and type 2 diabetes. According to Dr. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, "[t]he science [is] clear and conclusive: soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are leading contributors to the nation's runaway obesity epidemic."

Study researcher Vasanti Malik from the Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health said that the "[f]indings from our meta-analyses show a clear link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and type2 diabetes."

Empty calories consumed from these beverages increase weight gain in a dramatic fashion because they in no way satiate hunger. As a result, we indulge in additional calories that we never compensate for, therefore, packing on the pounds and increasing our risk of disease later on.

Ramin Talaie/Corbis

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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