Coca Cola to address obesity in ads: Will it make a difference? Is soda an issue for your kids?

Atlanta-based Coca Cola will begin featuring ads that address the problem of obesity. For example, one ad will feature a montage of activities that would add up to burning off the 140 calories in the can of Coke. Another ad discusses obesity being a concern for all and working together to make a difference.

From The Associated Press: (I bolded for a quick read)

“The Atlanta-based company on Monday will begin airing a two-minute spot during the highest-rated shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC in hopes of flexing its marketing muscle in the debate over sodas and their impact on public health. The ad lays out Coca-Cola’s record of providing drinks with fewer calories over the years and notes that weight gain is the result of consuming too many calories of any kind — not just soda….”

“For Coca-Cola, the world’s No. 1 beverage company, the ads reflect the mounting pressures on the broader industry. Later this year, New York City is set to put into effect a first-in-the-nation cap on the size of soft drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and other venues. The mayor of Cambridge, Mass., has already proposed a similar measure, saying she was inspired by New York’s move.”

“And when PepsiCo Inc., the No. 2 soda maker, recently signed a wide-ranging endorsement deal with pop singer Beyonce, critics called for her to drop the contract or donate the funds to groups that fund health initiatives.”

“Recent studies have also suggested that sugary drinks cause people to pack on the pounds, independent of other behavior. A decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans, for example, suggested that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight and amplifies a person’s risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity alone.”

“Mike Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was skeptical about the intent behind Coca-Cola’s ads and said that if the company was serious about helping reduce obesity, it would stop fighting soda taxes.”

“It looks like a page out of damage control 101,” he said. “They’re trying to disarm the public.”

“The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been critical of the soft drink industry and last year released a video parodying Coke’s famous polar bears becoming plagued with diabetes and other health problems from drinking too much soda.”

“Coca-Cola said its ads aren’t a reaction to negative public sentiment, however. Instead, the idea is to raise awareness about lower-calorie drinks and what it plans to do in coming months, said Stuart Kronauge, general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America.”

‘There’s an important conversation going on about obesity out there, and we want to be a part of the conversation,’ she said.”

“In the ad, a narrator notes that obesity “concerns all of us” but that people can make a difference when they “come together.” The spot was produced by Brighthouse and Citizen2 and is intended to reflect Coca-Cola’s corporate responsibility to cable news viewers.”

“Another ad, which will run later this week during “American Idol” and before the Super Bowl, is much more reminiscent of catchy, upbeat advertising people have come to expect from Coca-Cola. It features a montage of activities that add up to burning off the “140 happy calories” in a can of Coke: walking a dog, dancing, sharing a laugh with friends and doing a victory dance after bowling a strike….”

“Coca-Cola declined to give details on what it plans for the year ahead. But among the options under consideration is putting the amount of activity needed to burn off the calories in a drink on cans and bottles.”

The company noted it has already made several moves to help customers make better choices, such as putting calorie counts on the front of its cans and bottles in the U.S. Last year, it also started posting calorie information on its vending machines ahead of a regulation that will require soda companies to do so by 2014.”

So what do you think: Is Coke sincere in wanting help fight obesity? Do you think the ads will help? Will putting the calories on the side of the can help fight obesity?

I’m all for more information. I have mentioned before that I love that restaurants in California have the calories listed. I wish coffee makers would put exact caffeine counts on their packaging. I want to know exactly how much I am taking in and numbers are hard to find.

One of the big things I try to stress to our kids is what empty calories are and where they are coming from. My kids will beg for sweetened cereals and I literally tell them you know these are a treat and not a healthy breakfast. They use it as a treat instead of cookies (there are some vitamins in there) or maybe for breakfast on the weekend but never breakfast before school.

I think parents also have to teach moderation for all foods and drink.

Will ads help reign in kids drinking sweetened drinks? Would you rather them drink a diet soda with an artificial sweetener or drink the real sugar with the calories?

Do you teach your kids about empty calories? Do you teach moderation with foods and drinks? If so, how?

32 comments Add your comment

Zen Galacticore

January 15th, 2013
3:42 am

The media are constantly blaming food (including restaurant) and beverage companies for American consumers’ consumption choices and their expanding waistlines.

As a native Atlantan, I’d like to point out that most of the original sodas, including Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Nehi’s orange and grape, ginger ales, etc., were invented in the South, long before the coming of air conditioning. (Coke, as well as iced tea, will keep you from passing out in the heat and humidity!)

Such beverages were never intended to be imbibed as if they were water, but rather as an occasional treat, a pick-me-up, like a cup of good java. But now, according to the CDC, 2/3’s of Americans are considered overweight or obese, and the media loves to blame this on sweetened, carbonated beverages.

That’s funny, because people have loved Coca Cola for over 120 years, and if you look at photographs of crowded urban scenes from the 1890’s thru to the 1960’s, how many obese people do you see, on average? Not very many.

And that’s an interesting correlation, because it was in the mid 1970’s that Coke and others began using high fructose corn syrup (in the US), in place of real cane sugar, to make their flagship product, all because of crazy tariff laws on imported sugar to help corn growers and their cohorts who manufacture toxic, diabetes and obesity-inducing high fructose corn syrup.

One can still get real, sugar cane Coca-Cola. Just go to where your local Hispanics shop, and there you will find it, in the green glass bottle no less! And I have to say, that AS a native Atlantan, it irritates me that I have to rely on an immigrant population to get the, “Real Thing” in of all places, Atlanta, GA, the home of Coca-Cola!

It’s not sodas, or even fries and cheeseburgers that are the problem, it’s a lazy, sedentary populace. Try working up a sweat every other day for just 20 minutes, and drink sodas as they were meant to be drunk, as a treat, not a staple commodity. Use the push broom or the rake for a change, instead of that nefarious, loud, obnoxious blower.


January 15th, 2013
5:19 am

We do not drink a lot of soda or as some call it pop. I do need my black coffee or sweet tea :).


January 15th, 2013
5:57 am

Agree with Zen. The problem is not the soda so much as the fact that people (my family included) can’t seem to do anything in moderation. High fructose corn syrup is a big part of the problem as are artificial sweeteners.

As a general rule I refuse to drink any calories and I don’t like for my family to either. I drink black coffee, water and unsweet tea. My kids basically drink milk and water. I’ve bought 1percent milk since they were 2 yrs old or so. We usually have apple juice and/or orange juice but I keep small cups/glasses to show the kids that juice is not meant to be consumed in large quantities the way water is. If I buy soda, it’s the first thing the kids go to in the fridge and we run out so quickly. If I thought they would drink 8 oz of soda a day I might buy it but that’s never the case. It’s expensive and unhealthy. I figured out a long time ago that anything you drink is either loaded with chemicals or sugar or both and it’s just to avoid it all. My kids usually get sweet tea or soda at restaurants. Usuallly because it comes with the meal.

That being said I don’t agree with any government restrictions on soda, taxing soda etc..

Yes, I teach my kids about empty calories. We do sweetened cereals as a snack also. I like that they get the milk with it. (I’ve not yet been convinced that milk is horrible). I would much rather my kids eat regular sugar and try to avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs.


January 15th, 2013
6:17 am

Soda is restricted to once a week in my house.


January 15th, 2013
7:14 am

Like @homeschooler, my 10-year-old only drinks milk (1%) and water with occasional juice and a sports drink after a game. My husband drinks Coke Zero once in a while, but I can’t stand anything carbonated and don’t understand how sodas can be seen as refreshing when all you need is a nice cold glass of water.


January 15th, 2013
7:43 am

So after all of the “awareness” programs, people are still not changing their behavbior because they don’t WANT to. Which is fine, it’s their life.And I’m fine with Coke making the effort on their own accord.

I’m curious to see if the health-control freaks will start saying nice things about coke or if they will still be evil as if the ad had never happened. It may be a one sentence statement along the usual lines of “it’s a great first step but we still have a long way to go”.

Anyone want to make a wager?

Mother of 2

January 15th, 2013
7:50 am

Not sure what I did right, but my kids didn’t like soda when they were young and therefore didn’t drink it. They did drink lemonade, but only at birthday parties or special occasions. My college student will have a soda here and there. My high school student still doesn’t like soda. They do eat junk food, so they aren’t the healthiest eaters. Neither is over weight. I think I just got lucky because I don’t remember restricting any food or beverage when they were little.

mystery poster

January 15th, 2013
8:02 am

You are correct that soda used to be an occasional treat.

What do you think is behind the fact that so many people drink huge amounts of sweetened soda every day? Do you think that advertising by Coke and others had anything to do with it? Of course it did! I remember a “Coke in the morning” advertising blitz in the 80s. Don’t think that Coke has nothing to do with the increase of use of its product. Businesses want to increase sales of their products, it’s what they do.

Coke trying to combat obesity is a little like the NRA trying to combat gun violence.


January 15th, 2013
8:12 am

Is anyone besides me tired of companies being blamed for peoples choices? Coke is not forcing you to purchase their product or requiring you to super size your drink. “OH look, the calories are now listed on the front of the can. Hm, maybe I shouldn’t drink this…” Yeah, Right.

I am so over everyone being blamed except the individuals making the bad choices. It is NO ONES fault but your own if you or your childen are obese.

Voice of Reason

January 15th, 2013
8:15 am

Eating healthy is good, but ideally, it is a sedentary lifestyle and tremendous lack of exercise that causes people to get fat.


January 15th, 2013
8:21 am

Was never an issue for my kids, but, DANG! I kicked sweet tea but have not been able to kick Pepsi!


January 15th, 2013
8:22 am

My oldest will drink Sprite if offered, but we don’t keep it in the house, so he doesn’t have it that often. My second hates the fizziness, so he won’t touch the stuff. So, no, I guess we don’t have a problem with it, because it’s just never been really available to them too much. (Shocking idea, I know. I, as a parent, have controlled what my kids eat and drink.)


January 15th, 2013
8:23 am


January 15th, 2013
8:29 am

First off, I don’t need any company telling me how to eat and exercise.

Secondly, my mom was a nurse, and she knew nutrition. She worked a full time job at the hospital, then came home and took care of her family. Mom cooked dinner every single night. Meat, 2 veggies, a starch, and always a salad. Milk was served with dinner. Not cokes, not sweet tea (we lived out west, sweet tea was never heard of)….we ate healthy, and we got plenty of exercise as kids, which lead us into adulthood, and good healthy habits.

Now, I have a friend who is addicted to coke. At least a 12 pack a day. She starts to freak out if she gets low, say only 4 cokes. I was recently at her apartment, and there are emtpy coke cans EVERYWHERE, even in her bathroom. I counted 12 in her bedroom. I’ve tried to convince her to substitute 1 bottle of water for 1 coke a day. Her own doctor has told her to cut back on the cokes. She says she can’t that she gets horrible headaches. She swears the the caffiene she is hooked on, but it’s the sugar. 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon… that’s what 8 teaspoons of sugar in a 12 oz coke…..she is extremely overweight, and is constantly falling down and fracturing this or that. Just recently, at the Capital One bowl game on New Years day, she fell down a flight of concrete stairs, busted up her elbow and knee. Now, she’s back on the couch, inactive, but still pushing a 12 pack of coke into her body.

I have 2 cokes a week, one on Saturday and one on sunday. I don’t drink sugary sodas, or sweet tea. I do drink Lipton tea, and a ton of water. And, as usual, milk with dinner. Home cooked dinner. We don’t go out to eat, we cook at home almost every single night. We all pack our lunches too.

It’s a treat to go out and eat about once a month. I can’t see doing it every night.


January 15th, 2013
8:39 am

Oh, PUH-LEEZE!! I’d be a hell of a lot more impressed over NYC’s supposed “concern” for the health of their citizenry if they were making those same restrictions on cigarettes and alcohol — but NOOOOO. I guess they couldn’t figure out a way to tax a Diet Coke, so they decided to limit the quantities in which it is sold? Dumbest thing I ever heard of.

The government is not responsible for someone’s poor food choices. YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE STUPID. You can lecture kids from the time they are in kindergarten about drugs, and still, a certain percentage of kids will STILL try drugs for whatever reason seems sufficient at the time. You can show them foot charts, pyramids, inverted pyramids — whatever — about healthy eating and guess what? They STILL eat a Big Mac, fries and a Coke. The U.S. tried to morally legislate alcohol during Prohibition, and the only thing that did was lead to the rise of organized crime — thank you very much, U.S. Government

And if I were Beyonce’, I’d tell the Pepsi haters to kiss my grits!


January 15th, 2013
8:43 am

The Coca-Cola Company should have one value. Return value to its shareholders. Anything else is wrong.

Take steps to fight obesity if the health mongers are hurting business.

Coke isn’t responsible for you being a fat ass. You are.


January 15th, 2013
8:51 am

Kids develop unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles for one reason and one reason only – they’re allowed to.

Mayhem, you are just the perfect human being. We should all be just like you.


January 15th, 2013
8:56 am

Saw a man with a baby at the corner store. This baby could barely walk, he was probably about 13 months old. In his mouth was a sucker, and his dad was allowing him to pick out candy. 13 months old, and already chubby, and daddy is standing there allowing him to chose more candy….

@loveyourself – no one of us is perfect. I certainly am not, but I do practice healthy eating and we as a family get plenty of exercise. I don’t need Coca cola telling me how to eat.

Stookie Bro

January 15th, 2013
10:07 am

@Catlady- I’m with you. I eat very healthy, exercise 6 times a week and in great shape but I can not get through the day without a Pepsi. I am freakin addicted to it. You can’t tell me this isn’t happening to others.


January 15th, 2013
10:10 am

This should not even be necessary. We are all responsible for our own diet and exercise decisions. You cannot out-work a bad diet so no matter how active you are, if you eat badly you won’t lose weight. If you are dedicated to staying healthy and being fit (or getting healthy and getting fit) then you have to make better decisions. If that means decreasing the amount of sodas you decide to drink then do that. If it means drinking more water then do that. It’s not easy because the stuff we really like is probably not good for health and fitness goals. Shoot, I work out and I should be losing weight but I love to eat so I’m not losing as much as I’d like. And I gain weight much faster than I lose. I LOOK better but the scale is not budging. Why? Because I like cake and cookies and I won’t stop eating them. Whose fault is that? Mine. Not Betty Crocker.

And Mayhem as for your friend who says she needs the caffeine for her headaches, she could be telling the truth…partially. (A small part, really, because no one needs a twelve pack.) Caffeine helps me with my migraines. I will drink a diet Pepsi or Coke when I take Ibuprofen or Excedrin or BC Powder and it will work better. When I take a prescription I don’t need the caffeine. If I feel a regular headache coming on and I have nothing on me I can drink a diet soda and it will help. Problem for me is that caffinated (sp?) drinks irritate my stomach so I can’t do that every day.

mystery poster

January 15th, 2013
10:28 am

Excedrin and BC powder already have caffeine in them, no need to take them with Pepsi. Caffeine is the “extra ingredient that makes it work faster” from their ads.


January 15th, 2013
11:11 am

Thanks mystery poster!! I didn’t even think about that.


January 15th, 2013
11:15 am

I am lucky my kids never took to coke (full strength). I have one that will occasionally drink a diet drink, but they prefer water, milk or juice. I do not restrict their sugar, that just creates the “it’s a treat so it must taste better” mentality that leads to over indulgence. One is good so more must be better. I grew up in a home with 5 siblings that all regarded cookies, soda and chips as treats and if you didn’t have your fill on grocery day you were left out. Obesity has many causes and I think it is wrong to blame it on (just on) sugary sodas. What about those monster margaritas? How much sugar is in those?


January 15th, 2013
11:43 am

@3schoolkids – OMG, when I looked up the calorie content of my favorite adult beverages I was horrified. I rarely drink anyway but I usually stick with “diet” beer (light beer) instead of my favorite margarita and daiquiri. I’d rather eat my calories…exhibit A: my tummy pooch. :-) Those “skinny” and sugar free adult drinks are horrible, IMO.


January 15th, 2013
12:56 pm

Denise, you acqure a taste for diet drinks. If a restaurant slips and gives me regular coke, it taste like pure sugar to me. I can have a pantry full of sodas but if I don’t have a diet soda, I don’t drink them.


January 15th, 2013
2:19 pm

How much exercise do I need to work off a 750ml bottle of Vodka?


January 15th, 2013
2:51 pm

Do claims of “personal responsibility” no longer ring as true when there is collective financial responsibility for the diseases that obesity brings?

With national healthcare and even private healthcare – someone else besides the sick person is likely bearing most of the financial responsibility of the disease.

When we abdicate financial responsibility, we abdicate the privilege of it as well.


January 15th, 2013
2:55 pm

@jmb – I prefer diet drinks as well (I hardly drink anything but water and tea if it’s not beer :-) ) but I’m talking about adult beverages like the skinny margarita and the skinny sangria. They are basically colored water. 98 calories is not going to get you much of a margarita or sangria.


January 15th, 2013
3:29 pm

Gotcha Denise, I’ve never tried one. I stick to my Miller Lite for the most part in the evenings though. Do they charge 1/2 the price?


January 15th, 2013
4:04 pm

@jmb – of course not! It still costs. It just “sounds” good on paper. :-)

[...] Coca Cola to address obesity in ads: Will it make a difference? Is soda an issue …Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Atlanta-based Coca Cola will begin featuring ads that address the problem of obesity. For example, one ad will feature a montage of activities that would add up to burning off the 140 calories in the can of Coke. Another ad discusses obesity being a concern …Coca Cola Addresses Obesity In New Television LiveCoca-Cola to tackle obesity in adsGrand Forks HeraldCoca-Cola Recommended As CureLeadership Newspapers [...]

Zen Galacticore

January 16th, 2013
2:06 am


Jarvis wrote-

“The Coca-Cola Company should have one value. Return value to its shareholders. Anything else is wrong.”

What about the Coca-Cola CORPORATION taking care of its employees and customers? Do not the workers matter? Does not the larger community of humanity matter? What, and what is not, “wrong”?

The corporate structure of capitalism is Not the Only form of capitalism. (Don’t get me wrong, I think the Coca-Cola Company is a great company. But they have, in good conscience and as do all companies and corporations, have a greater responsibility than just to the stockholders and investors.)

All people, and all entities– including corporations– have a greater responsibility to the greater community. Of course, if people over-indulge in any product, whether sugary sodas, fatty foods, tobacco, etc., that’s their Choice!