Finally Health Experts Point Out That Coca-Cola Is Bad For Your Health The brand defends itself by claiming that it also offers healthy drinks. Eventually consumers who care about their health will get wise and stop buying junk sugary drinks

By Paolo von Schirach

May 9, 2013

WASHINGTON – At last Coca-Cola is under attack for selling a junk drink full of sugar and caffeine, with zero nutritive value, marketing it as if it were some special elixir that gives instant happiness to those who consume it. Yes, super obese America is finally understanding that people, children in particular, who routinely drink large (in some cases near industrial) quantities of sugar laden sodas become overweight and in many cases obese. Obesity is the root cause of a variety of serious ailments, from diabetes to cardiovascular diseases. It is now clear that, in order to stop and hopefully reverse this obesity crisis, Americans should change their dietary habits. Cutting off or substantially reducing the intake of sugary drinks should be on top of the necessary changes.

Coca-Cola is bad for you

For this to happen, we need to start by recognizing the obvious: Coca Cola is bad for you. And the more you drink it, the worst. If we step back a moment, given what we know now about the pernicious health effect of sugary sodas, it is amazing how Coca-Cola and other soda producers through their clever advertising managed to create a completely different idea. Coca-Cola is about youth, fun, happy social occasions. Most of the ads feature good looking young people often engaged in wholesome outdoors activities. They are all nice looking, energetic. They laugh a lot. So, Coca-Cola is about the good life. A clean, all American good life. And it is most extraordinary how the company managed to sell its product around the world, especially in poor countries, as a precious token of the American good life.

Selling a dream

Indeed, in small villages in Africa, Latin America or Asia poor people buy Coca-Cola. And with that bottle or can  that they also buy, or so they think, a small piece of the civilized world in which people live in nice homes with two car garages and pretty backyards. Yes, poor people spend the little cash they have on a bad product believing that this is a real sample of what is good in the West. 

On top of all that, Coca-Cola added another “nice” layer of Corporate Social Responsibility to its image. Coca-Cola sponsors sports and education undertakings in developing countries. It has lent its superb supply chains to efforts that include clean water centers and the efficient distribution of anti-retroviral drugs. So Coca Cola gives you an affordable good drink and at the same time it is socially conscious. Coca-Cola improves lives. Isn’t that great?  

Well, the Coca-Cola story is a story of the magic of marketing and branding. Here you have a product that is really bad for you sold as an affordable piece of the comfortable good life we all aspire to achieve. Amazing to see how long this ploy survived.

Brands under attack

But now all the soda makers, starting with Coca-Cola, are finally under attack, because of the proven ill effects of their products. And how do they respond? By being clever. If Coca-Cola were the socially minded corporation it claims to be, it should stop making and selling its dreadful flagship product. But you can forget about this idea.

Clever response

This bad drink is a proven, gigantic money maker world wide. And so, how will Coca-Cola deflect the attacks? Through a carefully orchestrated obfuscation campaign. Now there are Coca-Cola ads that invite people to watch their diet and exercise more. The ads also indicate that the Coca-Cola brand includes many sugar free, healthy drinks. The message is that the brand is not just about unhealthy sugary stuff. As I said, this may be clever. But it will not cut it.

Tobacco companies would not find any redemption by adding health food bars to their product lines. (“Hey, we sell cigarettes that kill you, but we also make high fiber products that lower your cholesterol. So, we cannot be that bad”.)Likewise, the problem with Coca-Cola is its flagship product. I fully understand that a major global brand will not just admit that its main product is unhealthy, fold and close down. And so they will do their utmost to protect it as long as they can.

That being the case, my only hope is that consumers worldwide will force this shut down by getting smart and stopping to buy this junk drink that is truly bad for you, while it provides zero nutrition value.

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