Coke Casts Obesity Blame on Exercise, Not Soda

Photo credit: GreatLakeShopps.com

Since Coca-Cola has been criticized for its contribution to the obesity problem in the United States with its seemingly endless supply of sugary drinks, the company launched a campaign aimed at redirecting the underlying cause for obesity. The campaign itself has generated its own criticism among news outlets for its misleading health facts.

When originally launched, Coca-Cola’s campaign promoted the idea that the health crisis is caused by a lack of exercise, not diet—and is certainly not due to the intake of too many sugary drinks. The company aimed to sell Americans on the idea of “energy balance,” which results in lots of backlash as misleading and potentially incorrect.

In August,, The New York Times published an article about the company’s “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis, which is “to maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories.”

Coca-Cola teamed up with Global Energy Balance Network, which encourages the idea that Americans are too fixated on what they eat and are unconcerned about how active they are. In the article, the New York Times stated that health officials say this message is misleading and simply part of an effort by Coca-Cola to misdirect the criticism about the role sugary drinks play in the spread of obesity and other major health issues.

As reported by PR Daily, Coca-Cola is now combating the criticism with more transparency. Officials came out to discuss that the company spent nearly $119 million on health-related research and partnerships since 2010.

In the article, Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North American, said “We understand that our efforts on obesity are not always seen as credible, what we’re doing today is just a first step.”

To offset criticism about their role in the obesity problem, what should Coca-Cola have done? Did they take their campaign in the right direction or should they have done something entirely different?

If you were on the PR team at Coca-Cola, what goals and objectives would you use in your response?

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2 Responses to Coke Casts Obesity Blame on Exercise, Not Soda

  1. Johana Soto says:

    I think Coca-Cola did the wrong thing by trying to put the blame of obesity on the amount of exercise instead of just trying to find a solution. I feel like they should have had a different direction so the audience doesn’t feel like they are misleading.
    If I were on the PR team, I would have probably tried to offer work out routines, maybe even diets that allow you to drink Coca-Cola products every so often that wouldn’t lead you to being obese or getting sick.

  2. Connor Johnson says:

    I would have taken many of the same steps that Coca-Cola did. The goal would be to distance Coca-Cola from the topic of obesity, especially in the minds of those that believe Coca-Cola is partly responsible for the obesity epidemic. However, this would prove to be difficult since many studies have proven that diet is much more important than exercise when it comes to obesity. I really liked that you included multiple links that backed up what you said. It makes your article much easier to follow and relate to.

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