A $3 million contribution to improve nutrition education and run exercise classes in Chicago public parks sounds like a great idea. Goodness knows both kids and parents in America can use all the help they can get losing weight and getting fit.
But there’s a slight problem – the contribution is coming from the philanthropy arm of the very company whose products are contributing to our obesity epidemic. And $3 million is a pittance for Coke, compared to the revenue it generates in a big city like Chicago.
Here’s how Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s Mayor, sees things:
On Monday, Emanuel reiterated his position that it’s better to give people personal responsibility and the information necessary to make the right choices about their health than it is to legislate their behavior. And he pointed out that the deal with Coca-Cola will allow the Park District to hire about 60 armed forces veterans to lead fitness classes. Read more from the Chicago Tribune…
Baloney. This sounds like words straight out of the Coke PR guidelines:
- Personal responsibility – People are no less responsible today than their parents were a generation ago. It’s the obesogneic economy propagated by companies like Coke that is irresponsible.
- More exercise is the solution – Coke is encouraging people to exercise more, not to consume less empty calories. Heaven forbid people buy less foods
- More jobs – 60 jobs created by Coke and the city of Chicago. And for ex-military no less! And on veterans Day!!
Here’s what Coke gets out of this deal:
- Awesome PR
- Lenient regulatory environment in Chicago – Don’t expect Rahm Emanuel to pull a Bloomberg on soft drinks in Chicago anytime soon.
- Lenient regulatory environment in other major cities – because every mayor wants an extra 3 million dollars to benevolently spend on the people. Which means very few cities will impose substantial limitations on sales of soft drinks. Not to mention that elections are expensive and its good to have rich and satisfied contributors.
Here’s what Chicago gets:
- More sugary soft drinks
- More obesity
- More diabetes
Hey Mayor Emanuel – how about installing more water fountains (that don’t suck) in schools, parks, and municipal buildings?