An Op-ed by Coca Cola’s CEO, Muhtar Kent, in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, paints a picture perfect portrait of corporate citizenship, and little if any connection to the obesity epidemic in the US:
Our industry has become an easy target in this debate. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been singled out in spite of the fact that soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened bottled water combined contribute 5.5% of the calories in the average American diet, according to the National Cancer Institute. It’s difficult to understand why the beverages we and others provide are being targeted as the primary cause of weight gain when 94.5% of caloric intake comes from other foods and beverages. more…
Mr. Kent continues to claim that the problem of America is not too many calories in, it’s not enough calories out (exercise). What a convenient solution for junk food and liquid candy manufacturers – lay the blame on lazy consumers.
What you need to know:
The average daily caloric intake of Americans today is 3800 calories. If 5.5% of people’s calories come from soft drinks, that works out to 200 calories a day. That’s 200 empty calories: water+sugar+artificial flavorings and colors. This amounts to an added pound in body weight every 17 days, or 21 extra pounds put on every year. Still believe Coca Cola has nothing to do with Obesity?
As for lack of exercise, the World Health Organization recently published a report showing that, contrary to popular belief, people are working out pretty much the same as they did in the 1970′s. So it is about “calories in” after all.
Mr. Kent presents Coke as a socially responsible company, but fails to mention the huge marketing budgets aimed at youngsters, promoting more and more consumption of soft drinks. And by placing vending machines in schools, colleges, libraries, and pretty much every corner people turn, Coca Cola and other beverage manufacturers are literally putting soft drinks in people’s hands.
The stats presented by Mr Kent fail to mention the progressive growth of single serve Coke bottles over the last century, from a reasonable 8 fl oz. to the 20 fl oz. bottles today. Not to mention larger serving sizes at fast food establishments.
While the beverage industry is not the only reason Americans are getting fat, it is certainly a major contributor.
No doubt this Op-ed was written in response to growing pressures to levy a tax on soft drinks. Here we agree with Coke’s CEO. We’ve written before that a sales tax is not the way to go. A better solution is to set up “calorie offsets”, similar to carbon offsets. Learn more here.
What to do at the supermarket:
Folks, a soft drink may be a nice treat here and there, but for daily consumption, stick to water. Tap water. A family of four can save $500 a year by skipping the drink aisles in the supermarket.
Help us test our new food comparison tool: alpha.fooducate.com