America’s veins are filled with the carbonated, sugary sweetness of Coca-Cola.
These soft drinks — the more than 650 products made by Coca-Cola — have become a part of the fabric of America. They are the drinks of our childhood, birthday parties, school lunches and sports games. However, these drinks and those who sell them are also slowly killing us.
AU is a “Coke university.” Any beverage you purchase at AU is produced by, owned by and is a subsidiary of Coca-Cola. From the Eagle’s Nest to the vending machines to the Terrace Dining Room, AU supports the company behind the largest health crisis in the U.S.
Yet Coca-Cola is now urging Americans to come together to fight obesity. In a latest ad campaign entitled “Coming Together,” a soft female voice extols the efforts of Coca-Cola to be a part of the obesity solution over a slowly building piano sonata and images of school children, families, scientists and flashy graphics.
Don’t buy the deceptive concoction.
It is easy to get lulled by Coke’s coercive advertising. The commercial begins by talking about more than 125 years of Coca-Cola bringing people together and their voluntary efforts to offer low-calorie choices, smaller sizes and healthier options in schools. The narrator proudly states that “All calories count, no matter where they come from, including Coca-Cola and everything else with calories. And if you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you’ll gain weight.”
Thank you, Coca-Cola, for that pearl of wisdom.
Behind the smoke and mirrors, there is a company that has created a global brand that is directly linked to higher obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and malnutrition. All calories are not created equal, and the mixture of high-fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors and caffeine that make up many of Coca-Cola’s products are a toxic combination.
I decided to call Coca-Cola to learn more about their campaign against obesity and was reassured that Coca-Cola is 80 to 90 percent water and is part of your daily fluid intake (but not a replacement for water). They forgot to mention the 39 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce Coke, which far exceeds the daily requirements.
Coca-Cola’s duplicity goes beyond a marketing campaign designed to confuse and disorient Americans. Coca-Cola, along with other members of “Big Soda,” have virulently fought efforts to limit the size of soft drinks.
Christine Quinn, a New York City mayoral candidate, has received $10,000 from Coca-Cola, as have many other New York legislators and candidates (Coca-Cola spends millions each year on lobbying as well). Coca-Cola has also brought in the NAACP to fight New York City’s soda ban, despite the fact that obesity disproportionately affects minority communities.
Big Soda was also intimately involved in defeating the proposed D.C. soda tax in 2010, spending over $300,000 for grassroots campaigns, testimony before the city council and likely much more on anti-tax advertisements (that do not need to be reported).
Soft drinks are in many respects the contemporary Big Tobacco. Their coffers are deep, and they are supported by misinformation, denial and millions of dollars in lobbying.
The impact is just as severe. America’s addiction to soft drinks is a public health and food crisis, and blame can be placed squarely on the largest drug-dealer, Coca-Cola.
While Coca-Cola may proclaim that a can of Coke is “140 happy calories,” those 140 calories (all from sugar) are very different from the 140 calories in a banana. The deliberate distortions of Coca-Cola are deplorable but not all that surprising. Coca-Cola’s rebranding effort is a pathetic attempt to extend an addiction of its own creation, an addiction that must end.
Sam Mendelson is a sophomore in the School of International Service.