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January 14th, 2010:

The Nanny State vs Coca-Cola [just the facts]

01fat_650Having banned smoking in bars, posted calorie counts on restaurant menus and banished trans-fats from the city’s commercial kitchens, the great nanny that is the New York City Health Department has decided to take aim at soft drinks.

Of course an outright prohibition of something as American as Coca-Cola is a political non-starter. And the American people are pretty suspicious of efforts to tax soft drinks.

So the New York City Health Department decided to try an ad campaign, hoping to shock and disgust people enough that they give up the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola. The ads, which are running in NYC subways, depict a bottle of coke pouring out human fat.

They are gross. So gross, in fact, that they succeeded in getting me worried about the health implications of my 1-2 daily cans of Coke. So I decided to do some research.

Fortunately, the good men and women of the Coca-Cola Company have produced a flashy website and informative FAQ addressing just these issues.

Here are the facts, courtesy of Coca-Cola:

Q. Can sparkling beverages be blamed for causing obesity?

A. People consume many different foods and beverages, so no one single food or beverage alone is responsible for people being overweight or obese. But all calories count, whatever food or beverage they come from, including calories from our beverages.

Weight gain is the result of consuming more calories than are expended through basic metabolic processes and physical activity. We believe that all foods and beverages can have a place in an active healthy lifestyle that combines a balanced, sensible diet with regular physical activity. Consumers who want to reduce the calories they consume from beverages can choose from our continuously expanding portfolio of no- and low-calorie beverages, and full calorie options in smaller portion sizes.

Q. Are sparkling beverages full of “empty calories”?

A. Sparkling beverages are refreshing beverages that hydrate. They also provide carbohydrate calories (energy) that can help supply the energy necessary for daily activities. People who don’t want to consume extra calories from their beverages can choose from among a wide range of low-calorie and no-calorie Coca-Cola products in both sparkling and still varieties.

Q. Does Coca-Cola hydrate?

A. All beverages hydrate. Coca-Cola, as well as most other sparkling and still beverages, contains more than 85 percent water. Some studies have shown that consuming flavored beverages encourages greater consumption of liquid, which keeps the body better hydrated.

It is good that Coke is a wholesome part of our daily diet. After all, we Americans consume massive quantities of it. At over 50 gallons per-person per-year, we drink more soft drinks than milk, coffee and juices combined. But if you still don’t enjoy Coke for some reason (perhaps because you’re a Communist), never fear, the Coca-Cola Company has other options for you to enjoy. Talk about Corporate Social Responsibility!

Q. If I don’t want to drink Coca-Cola, what are other options?

A. People can count on The Coca-Cola Company to provide a delicious array of beverage choices—both with calories and without—that help you to stay hydrated, refreshed and nourished. There is a beverage for every lifestyle, life stage and life occasion, from our regular sparkling and still beverages to our no- and low- calorie and our caffeine-free and fortified beverages. In North America alone, we offer more than 130 beverage choices including sparkling beverages, water, juices and juice drinks, tea and energy drinks. Among the brands you may not recognize as a part of the Coca-Cola portfolio are Minute Maid®, vitaminwater®, Odwalla®, Dasani®, the Simply line of juices and ades, and FUZE®.

Frank Luntz on the most American products

I’m reading pollster Frank Luntz’s new book “What Americans Really Want…Really.” It is a great read, just like his previous book. I’m only about a chapter in, but am thoroughly enjoying the grand pronouncements Luntz makes about Americans and Americanness.

Take, for example, the lengthy table in the introduction answering the question “What  Do Americans Really Want Right Now?” that I’ve posted an excerpt from below:


For the most part I think Luntz is spot on (though it is unclear what these pronouncements are based on, but that doesn’t matter). What, after all, is more American than Coca-Cola, Walmart, Pick-up Trucks and McDonald’s?

I’m a little less sure about the beer pronouncement. Bud Lite, after all, tastes like, well… Bud Lite. But the fact that Bud Lite comes in a can gives it a serious edge over the fancy bottled competition: it can be shotgunned. And everyone knows that is the most-American way to drink a beer.

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