Childhood Obesity: The Fun Never Ends

Rotten Tooth Fairy

Childhood Obesity News has been talking about how the beverage industry promised to mend its ways, and the hilarious hijinks that have ensued. The beverage industry has this concept called self-policing, and it’s the most humorous thing since (insert here the name of your favorite comedian, funniest movie or YouTube clip, etc.).

For instance, they solemnly promise to scale back on the advertising of sugar-sweetened beverages to kids. Then, they go and inundate kids with even more advertising, especially the ethnic groups that are most at risk for serious health damage. Are those guys a laugh riot, or what? They’re putting more bad stuff in the bottles and cans, and omitting some pretty darn important information from the labels. Those wacky captains of the beverage-industrial complex, what uproarious jokes will they play on us next?

Along with its legendary self-policing abilities, so appreciated by connoisseurs of comedy everywhere, the food industry has many other talents. We mentioned the Chicago Tribune piece where Julie Deardorff reported how willing the industry is to use its “dramatic reach and persuasive marketing skills.” We just bet it is! The industry wants to help by cozying up to such august organizations as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians, the better to influence them. What the beverage-industrial complex really brings to the table is dramatic verbal baloney and a persuasively fat wallet.

Ready for another round of side-splitting humor? Deardorff quotes a Coca-Cola spokesperson, who says:

We believe in healthy people; when they’re healthy and happy, that’s the best thing to do for the long-term health of the business and the right thing to do.

What does that even mean? They believe in healthy people… Is that like believing in unicorns, certain that they do exist somewhere? Like maybe there are a few healthy people left, in some remote corner of the globe where the tentacles of Coca-Cola have not yet reached? But wait, there’s more. The reporter conveys to us the corporation’s assurances that:

Partnerships with the medical community help present a balanced picture of what the science says about diet and exercise.

But, not to worry, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, chairman of the Committee on Nutrition at the AAP. We shouldn’t be concerned because there are firewalls, a notion that’s about as comical as the beverage industry’s famous self-policing. Dr. Bhatia believes in firewalls, however, explaining it like this:

Coke is so popular that if we can, over time, get them to create healthier products or healthier messages, then we have won. Coke’s Live Positively initiative aligns with to improve the health of children through educational resources.

Yes, many doctors have apparently convinced themselves that by teaming up with Coke and whoever else comes around offering money, their professional organizations can actually exert a reforming influence on the industry. (Nothing was mentioned about whether these doctors also believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.)

Note: The illustration, by Jeff Carter, is called “Rotten Tooth Fairy.” It’s a reminder that childhood obesity is not the only aspect of health affected by the food industry. Ask a dentist some time, about sugar-sweetened beverages.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source:  “Critics pounce on Coke, Pepsi health initiatives,” Chicago Tribune, 02/04/12
Image by I’m Fantastic (Jeff Carter), used under its Creative Commons license.

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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