Coke can't have it both ways
Coca-Cola just came out with a new ad campaign called "coming together," a promotional push about the obesity epidemic and how the company wants to be part of the solution.
The ad says the "long-term health of our families and the country is at stake" and how out of the 650 different beverages in Coke's "portfolio," 180 have a "low-calorie" and "no-calorie" options. Who knew that there were that many beverage options in the world?
The ad says Coca-Cola is putting calorie content on the front of each can "to help make it even easier for people to make informed decisions."
But if Coca-Cola really wanted to be transparent and inform us about what is in its products, we would know that the high fructose corn syrup used to sweeten soda is made from genetically modified corn. Besides obesity, high fructose corn syrup is arguably contributing to the rise in diabetes in our country.
We would also know that the artificial sweetener Aspartame, found in its diet soda, contains aspartic acid, phenylalnine and methyl alcohol. Methyl alcohol is a chemical that breaks down into formaldehyde and diketopiperazine, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin.
This all begs the question: Why is Coke calling attention to the obesity issue in the first place? One would think that would be bad for its business model.
Coca-Cola has created a demand for its products over the years — soda with calories made from high fructose corn syrup. Let's call this the problem.
What do we do when we have a problem? We find a solution. That's exactly what Coca-Cola is doing. Call it brilliant marketing and long-term business planning: Get people hooked/addicted on your product at a young age; contribute to the obesity epidemic; then come in with zero-calorie soda that feeds the taste addiction.
Problem solved? Not really, because it fails to address nutritional value — or lack thereof.
In the ad, Coke tries to make all calories sound equal: "One simple common-sense fact ... all calories count no matter where they come from."
Perhaps as a number, yes. But in quality of the calories, no way. I cry foul on this one, too. Coke makes it sound like the 140 calories from a chemical-filled can of soda is the same as consuming 140 calories from fruits and vegetables — foods with nutrients that the body needs to thrive.
How can this misleading statement be part of solving the obesity problem? Coke is saying one thing but selling another. A bigger question: Would we even have to count calories at all if we ate a balanced diet and were more physically active?
If there is a silver lining, it is that Coke "will continue to work with scientists and nutritionists on innovative things as zero-calorie, all-natural sweeteners." The implication here is that we should keep on enjoying the fake chemical sweeteners until then.
But how much more science do we really need in our diet?
How have we come to a point in this country where we need a soda manufacturer to give us advice about calories and beating obesity?
What's wrong with just drinking water? It's the ultimate zero-calorie drink.
Remember to practice good self care this week.
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at locally owned New Earth Market in Yuba City.