As an example of a global corporation that activists love to hate, the Coca-Cola Company is at the top of the list. Every now and then, it’s useful to look back over what Coke has been up to, in its long and troubled relationship with the childhood obesity epidemic, as well as other serious health problems.
Rachel Nall wrote for LiveStrong.com about the connection between cola drinks and kidney disease. The phosphoric acid in the soda is said to create an acidic environment that facilitates the formation of kidney stones. According to this theory, the darker the cola, the worse the danger. The Coca-Cola Company, of course, denies that this is possible, and names other common beverages that it says contain more phosphoric acid than Coke.
Last fall, 12 Australian health groups collaborated on composing a letter to Coca-Cola asking the corporation to stop sponsoring children’s sports and to remove their products from the “tuckshops” where schoolchildren buy snacks. Nutrition Australia and Diabetes Australia were two of the participating organizations, and another was the Obesity Policy Coalition. Jane Martin, of the last-named group, was interviewed by Consumer Affairs Reporter Amy Bainbridge. Among other things, Martin said:
I don’t think the public should be taking dietary advice from Coca-Cola…. I think the public do deserve more and I think Coca-Cola really should be putting their marketing might behind actions that really would make a difference and actually accept that sugary drinks are a huge part of the obesity problem.
Bainbridge also gave Coca-Cola a chance to have its say, and a spokesperson told her:
‘We absolutely stand by our commitments which are aimed at providing people with choices, as well as encouraging them to be more active more often and enjoy our drinks as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.’
That is the Coke party line in a nutshell, the rationale they repeat over and over again. The corporation is just a real nice friendly accommodating buddy who strives to give people what they want, no matter what it is, because the customer is always right. And there is no problem with consuming thousands of empty calories, as long as you do enough exercise to work them off.
Another propagandistic ploy is to claim that, as long as the corporation has a “robust system of declaring interests,” everything is okay. In other words, as long as the public is aware that Coke is sponsoring youth programs or whatever, we shouldn’t have a problem with it. One of their best lines is, “No one entity can solve this issue alone.” Translation: Go away and eliminate every other possible cause of childhood obesity, then come back and see us.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Does Soda Cause Kidney Stones?” Livestrong.com, 08/16/13
Source: “Leading health groups call on Coca-Cola to scrap ad campaign,” ABC.net.au, 09/11/13
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