Breaking Down Coca-Cola’s Flawed Anti-Obesity Ad Campaign

To kick off 2013, Coca-Cola has decided to take a pro-health approach. Almost.

Coke’s new corporate messaging is both vague and misleading. Below is a segmented version of the exact transcript of the two-minute commercial (italicized), as well as critical feedback of each individual section.

“For over 125 years, we’ve been bringing people together. Today we’d like people to come together on something that concerns all of us: obesity. The long-term health of our families and the country is at stake. And as the nation’s leading beverage company, we can play an important role.”

Obesity is a growing health concern, largely due to the fact that the average American consumes 135 pounds of sugar per year, much of which comes from soft drinks like Coca-Cola. Such mass consumption of sugar is known to contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure and unhealthy blood sugar levels.

“Across our portfolio of more than 650 beverages, we now offer over 180 low- and no-calorie choices. And most of our full-calorie beverages now have low- or no-calorie versions. Over the last 15 years, this has helped reduce the average calories per serving across our industry’s products in the US by about 22 percent. We’ve created smaller, portion-controlled sizes for our most popular drinks, and will have them in about 90 percent of the country by the end of this year.”

While low- and no-calorie options sound better on paper, studies have shown that drinking diet sodas actually causes more weight gain than regular soda. Diet soda is made from synthetic ingredients and artificial sweeteners that cause inflammation and disrupt regular hormone function, which can lead to weight loss resistance.

“We’ve added the calorie content of all our beverages on the front, to help make it even easier for people to make informed decisions. For elementary, middle and high schools, our industry has voluntarily changed its offerings to primarily waters, juices and low- and no-calorie options. This has helped reduce the calories from our industry’s beverages in those schools by 90 percent since 2004.”

To make an informed decision, consumers should also be told that nearly all beverages manufactured by Coca-Cola are loaded with either sugars, inflammatory synthetic additives, or both. And while juices may have fewer calories, the amount of sugar in a 20-ounce Minute Maid Pink Lemonade (67.5 grams) actually exceeds the amount in a 20-ounce “full-calorie” Coca-Cola (65 grams).*

“We support programs like the Boys & Girls Club of America that enable young people to get active and start healthy habits early.”

Coca-Cola does “support” a program established by BGCA, but simultaneously advertising sports drinks by Powerade, which are loaded with synthetic dyes, additives and another 35 grams of sugar from high fructose corn syrup.*

“Leading is also about new thinking, which is why we will continue to work with scientists and nutritionists on innovative things like zero-calorie, all-natural sweeteners.”

The stevia plant has been used as a natural sweetener for hundreds of years in its native South America. Whey proteins are stevia-sweetend. Coca-Cola has recently begun using Rebiana, a “zero-calorie sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant,” to sweeten their vitaminwater zero. Though the label touts it as “naturally sweetened,” the ingredients list states that it contains less than 1 percent of Rebiana, among other artificial ingredients.*

“But beating obesity will take action by all of us, based on one simple, common-sense fact: All calories count, no matter where they come from, including Coca-Cola and everything else with calories. And if you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you’ll gain weight.”

This is true. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. However, empty calories from sodas, juices and other sugar-laden products fail to provide the nutrients to needed to ensure proper hormone function. These can lead to weight-loss resistance.

“The well-being of our families and communities concerns everyone, and finding a solution will take continued effort from all of us. But at Coca-Cola we know that when people come together, we can make a real difference.”

Coke’s efforts to at least address the obesity epidemic are tiny step toward real, helpful action. However, these final statements are an attempted happy-go-lucky gloss over an otherwise sad picture. When people are fully informed—and not mislead by disinformation and half-truths—then they will be able to come together and make a real difference.

While the world is starting to notice the dangers of soda, it is ultimately up to individuals to choose better lifestyle habits. To learn how you can make a positive health difference for yourself and your loved ones,contact your nearest Maximized Living wellness doctor today.

*All nutrition and ingredient information regarding Coca-Cola products referenced from