I can’t seem to keep up with my reading… I just read this news article about Coca Cola launching a series of ads, ostensibly to address the obesity epidemic. Really Coke? Are we honestly expected to believe that a huge for-profit company like Coca Cola is concerned about obesity rates and thinks that two, two-minute commercials will help us to lose weight. These ads are not for our benefit, they’re for the benefit of Coca Cola. They are advertising their beverages, and are meant to increase sales, not help you to lose weight.
The first ad tells us what Coca Cola is doing to reduce obesity. That would be creating more diet sodas. They also put calorie counts on the front of cans (because turning them around was too much effort). They also While reducing calories through consumption of low-calorie beverage options, rather than the original versions, can aid in weight loss it is certainly not the only necessary change. More important personal changes include: cooking most meals at home, not eating in front of the tv, and eating slowly. Most importantly, we need to change our society and food system so that calorie-laden, nutrient-poor foods are not so cheap and readily available, among other things.
The second ad (which I can’t seem to find a link for, sorry) tells us how much exercise is necessary to burn-off the 140 calories in a standard can of Coke. The message here? Coca Cola doesn’t have all that many calories, you can burn them off by walking your dog, dancing, or basically just having fun with your friends. Sure, you can burn-off the calories in those ways but the empty calories are not the only thing to be concerned about. There’s the phosphorus which may increase bone demineralization. There’s the fact that these calories may be displacing nutrient-dense foods and are often being consumed on-top of more than all necessary calories, meaning that one walk around the block with the dog is more than likely not going to be adequate exercise to maintain or lose weight.
I don’t think that anyone should be applauding Coke for “tackling” the obesity crisis. These advertisements are entirely intended to make you feel okay about consuming empty calories. Honestly, I don’t blame Coca Cola for trying to sell their products, everyone’s got to make a living. I just find it offensive that they think we’re stupid enough to believe that a) they’re concerned about obesity and b) that two commercials could reduce obesity rates.