Coca Cola Wants to Help Solve Obesity Epidemic. No, Really.

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Ben Cohen
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Having built a business selling enormously high calorie drinks, Coca Cola now wants to help put right the growing global obesity epidemic.  From ABC News:

Coca-Cola says it will make lower-calorie options and clear calorie labeling more widely available around the world, intensifying a push against critics who say its drinks pack on the pounds.

The Atlanta-based company, which makes Sprite, Fanta and Minute Maid, already offers diet drinks in most markets. But there's no consistency in their availability, particularly in emerging markets such as China and India.

Coca-Cola also said Wednesday that it would support programs that encourage physical activity and no longer market to kids younger than 12. That policy is already in place for the U.S., but the company did not say in which countries it currently markets to children.

As a fan of Coca Cola (at least the original drink), I'm slightly reticent to get too sarcastic about this, but it is rather like tobacco companies getting into cancer prevention. Sure, Coca Cola's new campaign might have some sort of effect, but it isn't about to do anything too serious about the epidemic. At its core, it is a business that sells sugar, and sugar makes people fat.

So really, it is in the business of making people fat.

If Coca Cola was serious about the obesity epidemic it would support legislation that prevented advertising its products altogether. Of course it doesn't support this because that would hurt its business, making its announcement pretty much meaningless.

In magical free market fantasy land, this is all ok though because people want sugary drinks, and dammit, Coca Cola is going to give them what they want! If they don't want it, they'll make them think they do by having celebrities drink it on television, and if they figure out they're being duped, they'll hire more celebrities to drink slightly less sugary versions of it so that they'll buy that instead. Sure, over 300,000 people a year die from obesity related diseases in America, and obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, but what has that got to do with anything?

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