Coke in Australia

Less than a year ago, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists announced that obesity is one of the most important challenges faced by those countries. Almost half of the pregnant women under their jurisdiction are overweight or obese, and many experience high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and other serious problems.

Consequently, many births are induced. Obviously, it’s best for a baby to stay inside as long as possible — unless it is dangerously large, a condition known as foetal macrosomia. According to The Sunday Telegraph:

The large size can lead to a wide spread of potential birth defects and developmental abnormalities. Babies born to an obese mother face a higher chance of having low blood sugar, high blood pressure, jaundice and a higher chance of developing childhood obesity.

So the doctor has to make a judgment call, and weigh the risks of interference against the risks of letting nature take its course.

Only last month, the government of New South Wales issued a report warning that one out of five of the state’s children is overweight or obese. It is estimated that the average child obtains more than a third of her or his daily calories from junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages. One-quarter of the teenagers drink at least five sugary drinks per week. In the country as a whole, the proportion of overweight kids has doubled since the 1980s.

In tune with the party line adopted by the entire junk food and sugar-sweetened beverage infrastructure, Coca-Cola still maintains that if people get fat it is their own darn fault, for not exercising the calories off. That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.

Last summer, Coke was outed as being behind some “astroturf” groups, and pretended to atone by promising to reveal all its connections with research projects and health groups. It disclosed its multi-million dollar support of “health and wellbeing partnerships” in the U.S., and then clammed up again.

But somehow, those American revelations enabled interested parties to learn something about similar activities in Australia — like the $100,000 grant that was made to a University of Queensland professor for research on treating metabolic syndrome with exercise. When asked why he went to Coca-Cola for money, Dr. Coombes laid responsibility at the door of the Australian government, which had supposedly encouraged academics to solicit help from businesses, because public funds would not be forthcoming.

The celebrated Professor Marion Nestle, who happened at the time to be filling a guest position at the University of Sydney, added her voice to the chorus demanding transparency. Writers Marcus Strom and Patrick Hatch recommend Nestle’s latest publication:

In her book Soda Politics, Professor Nestle dedicates three chapters explaining how Coca-Cola and PepsiCo target ethnic minorities and the poor in their marketing campaigns and through sponsorship of minority organizations.

This exploitation of the disadvantaged is what inspires so many people to experience such deep dislike of Coke and its gang of sugar pushers.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Supersized babies: Newborns weighing more at birth adding to obesity crisis,”, 12/05/15
Source: “Obesity is the new normal with one in five children overweight or obese,”, 09/17/16
Source: “What Coca-Cola isn’t telling you about its health funding in Australia,”, 02/24/16
Photo credit: cangaroojack via Visualhunt/CC BY-SA

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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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