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Coca-Cola launches antiobesity advertisements

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f494 (Published 23 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f494
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

The Coca-Cola Company, the world’s largest beverage company, has begun broadcasting television advertisements showing what the company has done to contribute to the fight against obesity.1

Coca-Cola said that it had launched its global campaign “to help society beat one of the most serious, complex issues of this generation—obesity.”

The Coca-Cola commercial says, “The simple common-sense fact is that all calories count, no matter where they come from . . . If you eat or drink more calories than you burn off you will gain weight.”

Coca-Cola’s two minute commercial says that the company has made efforts to offer consumers a choice of lower calorie beverages, to inform consumers about calorie content, and to encourage exercise. It says that the company offers consumers lower calorie beverages and has reduced the average calorie content per serving by 22%.

The commercial also says that it now provides smaller serving sizes of its drinks and has added calorie count labels to all its containers to inform consumers.

In schools, where students can buy drinks from vending machines, the company says that it is now offering water, juices, and low calorie drinks. It says that consumption of high calorie drinks has fallen by 90% among students.

High calorie, sugary drinks are the target of antiobesity campaigners. New York City Board of Health voted to ban the sale of 16 oz (470 mL) sodas and other sugary drinks in restaurants, movie theaters, and sports arenas. Sugary drinks are defined as having 25 kilocalories per 8 oz. The ban will come into effect in March.

The city’s health department said that 58% of New Yorkers were overweight or obese and that nearly 40% of the city’s public school children were obese or overweight. High calorie soda drinks sold in large containers are thought to be part of the problem.

New York has led the way in other public health campaigns, such as banning smoking in offices and other workplaces, restaurants, and public buildings; banning trans fats in food; and requiring restaurants to post the energy content of their meals.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have recently agreed to work with government leaders, food service operators, and vending companies to put calorie counts and health information on their vending machines for the first time.2 The information on machines will soon be available in San Antonio and Chicago.

Besides the role of sugary drinks in obesity, sugar’s role in heart disease has been revisited. Forty years ago John Yudkin, a professor of physiology at Queen Elizabeth College, London, suggested that added sugars increased the risk of heart disease. His book, Pure, White, and Deadly, is now being reissued.3

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f494

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