Five ‘Real Things’ Coca-Cola Can Do To Address Obesity

Boy drinkingCoca-Cola has unveiled a new ad campaign they say is designed to be part of the conversation about obesity. First up: an ad that touts their 180 beverages that are no or low calorie, like Dasani water and diet sodas.

If this means Coke plans to focus on these drinks and dedicate their advertising dollars (U.S. and globally) towards promoting water, unsweetened tea and other zero calorie drinks, that could be a helpful step toward reducing obesity and preventing many cases of cancer in the United States.

AICR’s expert report and its updates found that drinking sugary beverages causes overweight and obesity, which is linked to seven types of cancer.

If current trends hold though, Coca-Cola will continue to increase spending on sugary beverages. In 2010, Coca-Cola spent almost 40% more of their advertising dollars on Coke Classic (140 calories per 12 oz.) than they did in 2008, according to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. They also outspent all other companies on advertising sugary beverages in 2010.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Coca-Cola spent about $2.9 billion on advertising in 2010.

And much of that is targeted to children and youth. From 2008 to 2010, Coke’s TV adds for sugary drinks targeted to children nearly doubled.

Here are my ideas for Coca-Cola if they are serious about addressing obesity:

  1. Increase the number of low or zero calorie drinks from only 27% (180 of over 650) of their beverages to 90% of their choices.
  2. Price their beverages so the zero calorie beverages are significantly less expensive than sugary drinks.
  3. Package sugary beverages only in 8 oz. containers (or less).
  4. Change marketing so that 95% of their advertising budget goes to zero calorie beverages.
  5. Stop advertising any sugary beverage to children and teens. (This is one of AICR’s Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention recommendation.)

What ideas do you have for Coca-Cola (and other sugary beverage companies) to help improve Americans’ health?


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