Laugh Your Way to Thin, Says Coke


A while back, Childhood Obesity News related how The Praxis Project instituted a lawsuit against the Coca-Cola Company. One issue is the giant corporation’s insistence that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) have nothing to do with obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disorders. Additionally, although Coke supposedly has a Responsible Marketing Policy, it is not much of a policy and little responsibility is demonstrated.

The bottom line is liability, because losing this court action would open the door to other legal matters, like a class-action lawsuit brought by some portion of America’s estimated 30 million diabetics. Although corporations routinely set aside part of the budget in the expectation of paying out millions for legal fees and punitive settlements, there is a limit to how much they are willing to sacrifice.

The people at Praxis are especially incensed because Coke’s policy is to blame the consumers for their obesity, heart problems and diabetes. Members of the public are expected to perform the daily exercise required to burn off all the calories they take on board. If people are not smart or ambitious enough to do what is necessary to offset the SSBs they consume, that is not Coke’s problem.

The Praxis lawsuit also targets the American Beverage Association (ABA), which basically covers every non-alcoholic liquid including bottled water. With the dues collected from its members, the ABA pays millions of dollars each year to dozens of lobbyists from several different firms, whose job is to brainwash legislators and the public.

The beverage industry’s problem

According to those who keep track of such things, “The market’s performance was the strongest seen in several years.” But that refers to the entire refreshment beverage field, which yearly adds new categories including, now, “value-added water.” In America, however, carbonated soft drinks are seeing their lowest consumption level in 30 years.

SSBs go down, while water, ready-to-drink coffee and energy drinks go up. Ideally, from the industry’s point of view, sweet fizzy drinks ought to enjoy increased sales too. Everything ought to continue growing and growing until there is no room on the planet for anything but storage tanks full of refreshment beverages.

The adults are busy quaffing sports drinks and canned or bottled coffee, but who is out there still excited about SSBs? Children and young people! And this is the crux of the Praxis lawsuit.

The Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief states:

Although Defendant Coca-Cola promised that it would not advertise sugar sweetened beverages to children, it has advertised to children on a massive scale. A primary purpose of these ongoing campaigns of disinformation and misrepresentation is to maintain and increase the sales of sugar-sweetened beverages…

Other corporate baloney includes material on the urgency of “essential hydration” and messages implying that SSBs provide this.

Writing for Forbes, Nancy Fink Huehnergarth mentioned this gem:

The “Be Ok” advertising campaign, which implied that everyday, light activities like laughing for 75 seconds or doing a victory jig in the bowling alley, would offset the health damage from consuming sugary drink…

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Press Release: The U.S. Liquid Refreshment Beverage Market Accelerated Again in 2016,”, 04/19/17
Source: “Even If It Fails, Lawsuit Accusing Coca-Cola Of Consumer Deception Could Yield Benefits For Health Advocates,”, 01/06/17
Photo credit: retroclipart/123RF Stock Photo

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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.
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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
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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