How Coke Comported Itself Last Year

This picture shows the “Holidays Are Coming” truck, which yearly visits more than 40 locations in the United Kingdom. Last year, 2015, saw more pushback than ever, including harsh words from Parliament member Keith Vaz who said:

The Coca-Cola truck is not welcome in Leicester, and this national tour to promote sugar-laden drinks is ill-judged and unwise at a time of record diabetes and obesity levels.

Meanwhile in India, where Coke operates 57 facilities that produce sugar-sweetened beverages, the government is trying to pass a hefty 40% tax on that very commodity. The corporation was quick to point out that higher tax leads to falling sales, and then to factory closings and job loss for some of India’s 25,000 Coca-Cola employees. It’s not a threat, just economic reality.

In the U.S., football star Tom Brady of the New England Patriots said unkind things about Coca-Cola when it was not even the main topic of conversation. It was recently revealed that Brady’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero had trouble with the law in the past, for selling a health product. Defending him to an interviewer, Brady said:

You’ll probably go out and drink Coca-Cola and think, ‘Oh yeah, that’s no problem.’ Why? Because they pay lots of money for advertisements to think that you should drink Coca-Cola for a living? No, I totally disagree with that. And when people do that, I think that’s quackery. And the fact that they can sell that to kids? I mean, that’s poison for kids.

The athlete was making the point that the pot shouldn’t call the kettle black, and people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. When discussing the guru responsible for Brady’s health and phenomenal performance, people who eat and drink junk are not entitled to an opinion.

Coca-Cola exercised restraint, releasing a bland statement. But that wasn’t all. Brady also called out Kellogg’s cereal as one of the parties contributing to the “incredible rates of disease in our country.”

I think we’ve been lied to by a lot of food companies over the years, by a lot of beverage companies over the years… We believe that Frosted Flakes is a food.

Strong words! In return, Kellogg also issued a mild statement. Brady is, after all, one of the most famous athletes in history. But other kinds of people are voicing their objections, too, such as children’s doctors.

Regrettable liaisons

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has enjoyed a tie with Coca-Cola that included the chair of the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition defending the corporation in terms that could most kindly be described as uncomprehending. Indeed, the coziness of the relationship drew much criticism from both insiders and spectators.

Then, the Coke PR machine laid down a double whammy that could simply no longer be tolerated. First, they’ve been funding research scientists whose results mysteriously conclude that childhood obesity is in no way connected with a crummy diet, especially a crummy diet built around Coke products.

Second, the tame scientists also found that exercise is the only factor that makes a difference, and consequently the company has been “using sports to sell soda the way Virginia Slims used tennis to sell cigarettes,” as journalist Casey Hinds put it. This was more than the AAP could stomach.

Or maybe the breakup was caused by mounting criticism from a public offended by pediatricians at their national conference, carrying around swag bags emblazoned with gigantic, garish Coca-Cola logos.

A photo of that atrocity appears in an article by Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt. He mentions the end of Coke’s problematic relationship with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which has been accepting Coke money for eight years, and goes on to say:

There’s some talk about Coke being the one who ended it, but that may just be spin, an attempt at damage control from Coke.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour,”, 11/05/15
Source: “Coca-Cola India warns of factory closures if ‘sin tax’ is implemented,”, 12/12/15
Source: “Coca-Cola on Tom Brady’s ‘poison’ remark: ‘All our drinks are safe’ ,”, 10/13/15
Source: “How McTeacher’s Nights and Coke Science Betray Us,”, 10/14/15
Source: “The Coca-Cola Problem is Getting Uncomfortable,”, 09/29/16
Photo credit: Marnie Pix via Visualhunt

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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.
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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
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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.

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