Coke’s heavy-handed try to position itself as committed to good health ignores heavy people

Coke’s two-minute commercial telling us what it’s doing to fight the epidemic of obesity sweeping across America must contain two hundred people—all happy, many engaged with a Coke product, and none of them obese, or even overweight. Okay, okay, maybe two of the hundreds of people in the ad could stand to lose a few pounds, but even these still-happy few were in pretty good shape and shown being active.

Imagine. If instead of getting attractive models to shill their messages about a wider variety of smaller portions and lower calorie drinks, Coke had shown a cross section of the population—or better yet, a cross section of their drinkers—we would have seen a mesmerizing montage of saggy and billowing mid sections, big tushes, thunder thighs and quadruple chins. In short (and in large) one third or more of the happy Coke drinkers (shown or implied) in the commercial would have been obese and another third would have had more pot-gutted waddle than spring in their step.  That’s what all the statistics say: about a third of us are obese and another third are overweight.

Unfortunately for Coke, in the ideal world depicted in its commercial, a world of all healthy and happy people, there is no room for Coke or its products, other than the unscented water. The 100% juices that Coke mongers substitute a less healthy way to consume fruit—drinking it—for the healthier and lower calorie option of eating a real piece of fruit.  The sugared sodas are empty calories and the low-calorie ones have chemical substitutes that make people crave more food, so both lead directly to weight gain.

The ad and Coke’s overall campaign repeat the Big Lie that gets told whenever food companies get involved in an anti-obesity campaign. The big lie is to overstress the importance of exercise in losing weight. Don’t get me wrong: everyone should exercise a lot because it’s good for the brain, the heart and the psyche, and it does work off calories.

But exercise can only go so far. It takes about a half an hour on a tread mill to work off one chocolate chip cookie. So for the two thirds of Americans who already have a problem, exercise is no substitute for eating less…a lot less. If you want to lose weight, you have to eat less. And what better place to start reducing what you eat than to stop consuming the empty calories of Coke products?


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