by Marion Nestle
Mar 27 2011

Coca-Cola: solving the obesity problem?

I enjoy reading the San Francisco Chronicle when I’m in that city.  Today’s has a full-page ad from Coca-Cola: “Everything in moderation.  Except fun, try to have lots of that.”

Our nation is facing an obesity problem and we plan on being part of the solution.  By promoting balanced diets and active lifestules, we can make a positive difference.

For some people, a 12-fl.-oz. beverage may be too much.  Everyone’s needs are different.  So we’ve created a variety of package sizes….

While keeping track of calories is important, so is burning them off.  In our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we’ve heled more than one million kids learn the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition….

  As I keep saying, you can’t make this stuff up.

  • “learn the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition….”
    And to drink Coke

  • amanda

    Coke also claims that drinking a Coke makes you “part of the world’s largest recycling program.”

  • Joe

    I had a nutrition professor in college who drank a coke everyday. She always would tell us “Everything in moderation”. I wonder if Coke got to her? Or could it be that she having spent many years in the field understood that the moderation message is one that most can grasp?

    People simply cannot be dictated to what they should consume. Coke is not a drug, junk foods are not either. While I see there can be issues with consuming mass quantities of these things and do counsel against it I know that a person bound to eat or drink these junk foods is going to do it no matter what I say.

    What is observable is that not everyone who drinks sugary beverages or eats “junk foods” is fat. Moreover some who consume these things will never be fat. Why because we are all different. If height, hair color and shoe size are determined by genetics why is weight different?

    As long as it appears, and it does, that the so called learned strive to control what others eat I will take the opposite approach. In a free society I will have confidence that free people freely choose what they want whether I approve or not (In moderation of course)

  • fredt

    Moderation may work for 1/3 of the population. The next third is just overweight, and the last 1/3 is obese. The solution for those 2/3 s is cut out all sugar, grains, and manufactured oils and other eatable products to start with, Do Phil Maffetone’s Two week test and figure out how much carbohydrate they can tolerate. Take responsibility for their life and learn about the government food politics corruption and distortion of facts.

  • Jonesy

    Having struggled with obesity before the epidemic it has been clear that indeed more people around the world are struggling with weight. Given that genetic diversity and human nature have not changed in a million years, what gives?

    Personal experience has shown me that is it easier to eat 1,000 calories than to burn them. It would be educational to see historical change in something like the ratio of caloric intake vis a vis physical activity caloric output. In other words, a breakdown of the relative contribution to historical weight gain between food caloric intake and caloric expenditure (i.e. physical activity).

  • Doc Mudd

    “Everything in moderation. Except fun, try to have lots of that.”

    Moderation and fun.

    Those seem to stick in the craw of the food police, whose motto seems more like ‘Everything will kill us. Except guilt, insist upon having lots of that.’

  • Nutty_Observer

    Coke has the POTENTIAL to lead to obesity – I doubt anyone will disagree with that. It does not MEAN someone will become overweight. Yet I feel there’s more to an argument against sodas and junk foods than mere obesity. What’s wrong with stressing proper, nutritional eating for better health (and a better life) in general? Not everyone will get it right away, but eventually something is bound to stick. I hope.

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  • Atwater Flinch

    Don’t worry about Coca-cola. Something tells me that even if the world reduced it’s consumption of The Real Thing, they would do just fine. Perhaps it’s the major marketing of “healthy water,” teas, and juices. As described in Nestle’s previous (March 26th) post.

  • Anthro

    What does a nine year old know about moderation–especially when it comes to so-called treats?

    Coca-Cola is simply messing with words to try to obfuscate the plain fact that it’s product is useless and trying to associate their sugar water with “fun”.

    Hey, Mudd, there is no food “police”, only public health advocates trying to make the environment a little safer from marketing predators.

  • Doc Mudd

    What does a nine-year-old need to know about moderation?

    That gets to the heart of successful parenting, doesn’t it Anthro? By age nine they ought to at least have been taught to have a clue and be gaining some practical experience, don’t you think? I mean, it’s not like it’s sex education, or anything like that. They ought to be past the temper tantrum in the grocery aisle stage of development by the time they hit Kindergarten and certainly by the fourth grade.

    OK, then, no food “police” (y’all don’t have official authority anyway, yet, thankfully, so far).

    Maybe a more informally deputized sanctimonious rabble, eh? I’ve seen the term food ‘taliban’ used, but that seems a little too grim. A little.

  • Cathy Richards

    sort of like saying “as responsible members of the nuclear industry, who really can’t help it that people use our product irresponsibly or that the world poses dangers that make our industry quite volatile, we’ve helped thousands of people access iodine tablets”

    When used as intended, coke and other sweetened beverages contribute to obesity. There’s not many ways for them to get around that. “12 ounces may be too much for some people”. Oh puhlease. 12 ounces is one can, and most of what they sell is 19-20 ounces. The former is 10 tsp of sugar, the latter is 17 tsp. Both are too much for all people, in an empty calorie single serving beverage.

  • You know, The Onion just wrote an article about this.

    If you don’t understand satire and sarcasm, please don’t click.,1479/

  • Annie (Vancouver)

    I just explored the site mentioned here –

    This site (ad) is brilliant! It is just so visually exciting and so
    seductive. Suddenly I desperately want to become a part of this
    Coke community.

    I can only imagine, in my wildest dreams, what these great minds working for Coca-Cola could do if they sincerely wanted all of us to “live positively”.

    The only drawback might be that you would not be paid the big bucks.

    Money doesn’t buy happiness – Oh wait. Yes it does!

    “Open Happiness”

  • Anthro

    Well, Mudd, we can sit around and wish that all parents had the time and inclination to do their jobs the way that we all think they should, but since that isn’t likely, isn’t it a good idea for public policy to lean in a direction that supports what parents ought to be doing? Good policy would support “good” parents and help the rest learn to do better.

    As I said, today’s parents are often quite young themselves (and very busy I’m told) and have already grown up in an environment of heavily marketed junk food–how are they supposed to teach their children otherwise? So we can sit in our armchairs and pontificate about what children should know by a certain age, or we can get busy and make sure that good public policy is in place to help make sure they get a consistent message from all sources.

    Thanks for your feedback; I think we’re beginning to have a meaningful conversation, which is how it should be.

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  • Marcus

    Thanks, Coca-cola.

    120 calories takes me about 15 seconds to drink and 15 minutes to work off.

  • When I present, from a sugar perspective, what one 12-ounce soda per day looks like, people tend to voluntarily make a change. A picture is worth a thousand words:

  • Eric Bond

    When I see references to the “food police” I wonder what such people think of the lack of choice on most supermarket shelves. The folks who most exert undue authority on the American consumer are the conglomerates pushing sugar and empty calories, not the lonely voices suggesting that sugar water is not something around which a food culture should be built. When I walk down aisle after aisle and can find little or nothing that does not contain artificial sweeteners, day-glo colors, or fake health claims, it is clear to me who the real food police are. And their message is clear: don’t eat your vegetables!

  • Doc Mudd

    “Lack of choice” at most supermarkets?

    What supermarket doesn’t have a produce section, a dairy case, a meat department? Many even have ethnic foods and an in-house bakery & deli. Some will even cook an entire dinner for you to cart home to the family. Food stores absolutely love to sell you bottled water.

    There has never been a broader selection of choices presented to the American consumer in any one location than modern supermarket outlets. Of course, each of us can imagine a “choice” that isn’t represented on the shelf by multiple brands, or a preference that may be absent altogether – but we have to work our imagination to stump some of the larger superstores these days.

    Heck, most of the time it’s difficult to decide from among the many choices presenting themselves in the supermarket. Isn’t that the basic foodie gripe with corporate advertising – it influences buying decisions?

  • Eric Bond

    Hey Doc Mudd,

    If you’re happy with the Coke v. Pepsi choice have at it.

    While more supermarkets are including some organic choices, the reality is that the average supermarket in my neighborhood is full of choices among unhealthy snack foods and agribusiness produce but lacking when it comes to good food (though there is plenty of deceptive health food marketing at work).

    If I want to cook whole, healthy food, I have to be a smart shopper (fine by me, I am). Still, it is harder and harder to find a bag of uncooked beans except in specialty stores. Most food in the supermarket has been prepared.

    If, on the other hand, I am interested in choosing among premade (junk food) pizza, chicken nuggets, and microwave comfort foods, well, sure…there are two to four freezer aisles full of food. Hey, and lots of chips and crackers, too–if I prefer to consume 1,500 casual calories. And in the meat section, I do get a full array of factory farmed poultry, beef, and pork.

    Here’s my test of the diversity of supermarket food: Walk down an aisle and pick up every item. What percentage do not have sugar of some form as the second or third ingredient (including tomato sauce). Wow… some choice.

  • Doc Mudd, stockboy

    Bagged dry beans? Black or red?

    Aisle 7, ethnic foods, on your left just past the dozen or so brands of extra-virgin olive oil, Mr. Bond. If you pass the brown rice, you’ve gone too far.

    Don’t miss our kiwi fruit over in the produce section!

    Thank you for shopping with us today, Mr. Bond!

  • Suzanne

    I live in San Diego, and I agree with Eric Bond. I’m a Type II Diabetic, and am constantly on the lookout for items that are unprocessed; ideally without sugar and other additives. My choices are limited. I do so desperately wish that food manufacturers competed to entice me with whole, unprocessed, clean foods in minimal/biodegradable packaging.

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  • If you Can’t Beat them, just market the product differently.

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