Coke takes anti-obesity campaign global

by Candice Choi

(AP)—Coca-Cola says it will work to make lower-calorie drinks and clear nutrition information 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 they're not always as readily available in such as China and India as they are in the U.S.

With coming under fire for fueling , Coca-Cola Co. has been more aggressive in trying to convince customers its products can be part of a . That campaign has included the company touting its wide range of lower-calorie offerings. But Coca-Cola has also stood by its full-calorie drinks, saying that plays an important role in fighting obesity.

"There is a place for all of our beverages in a healthy lifestyle," CEO Muhtar Kent said in a call with reporters Wednesday.

The announcement from Coca-Cola comes as packaged across the industry look for growth in developing markets, where middle-class populations are growing rapidly. As more people head to cities and earn more money, they're more prone to eating convenient packaged foods that critics say lead to obesity.

The shifting populations in such countries represent an enormous opportunity for U.S. companies. For example, Coca-Cola has noted that Americans on average drink 403 servings of its various beverages a year. That compares with just 12 servings per year in India and 38 in China.

And the company's diet options aren't nearly as popular in such countries. In the U.S., where sugary drinks are often blamed for making people fat, now account for 41 percent of sales for the flagship Coke brand. That's up from single-digits in the 1980s.

Even in the major Chinese cities, by contrast, the percentage of sales that diet options account for is in the "high single digits," Kent said.

Coca-Cola Co. says its goal is to have diet options available wherever regular versions are sold. But that doesn't mean there would be a diet alternative for every particular brand. For example, if a store in India sells Coke it might also offer Sprite Zero, which doesn't have any calories, to meet the goal.

Coca-Cola also says it's also working to have cans and bottles around the world display calories counts on the front of the label, as it does in the United States. But the company didn't have a timeline for when it hoped to achieve its goals.

It also says it will stop advertising to children under 12 anywhere in the world.

The announcement build on a campaign the company started earlier this year. In January, Coca-Cola began airing its first TV commercial in the U.S. addressing obesity. That ad has since been rolling out to other countries.

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Coca-Cola not to blame for US obesity: CEO

Jun 19, 2012

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent insists his company is not responsible for the rise in US obesity despite New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent moves to limit the consumption of sugary drinks.

Recommended for you

When you lose weight, where does the fat go?

22 hours ago

Despite a worldwide obsession with diets and fitness regimes, many health professionals cannot correctly answer the question of where body fat goes when people lose weight, a UNSW Australia study shows.

Shed post-Christmas pounds just by breathing

22 hours ago

Ever wondered where the fat goes when somebody loses weight? Most of it is breathed out as carbon dioxide, making the lungs the primary excretory organ for weight loss, explain Australian researchers in the ...

Post-bariatric surgery weight loss may ease knee pain

Dec 14, 2014

(HealthDay)—Current evidence, though limited, suggests that bariatric surgery with subsequent marked weight loss may reduce knee complaints in morbidly obese adults, according to research published online ...

Poor diet links obese mothers and stunted children

Dec 11, 2014

Malnutrition is a major cause of stunted growth in children, but new UCL research on mothers and children in Egypt suggests that the problem is not just about quantity of food but also quality.

Obese children's brains more responsive to sugar

Dec 11, 2014

A new study led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine finds that the brains of obese children literally light up differently when tasting sugar.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.