Peak health and community organisations have written to senior leaders in Coca-Cola’s Australian and New Zealand operations calling for the company to stop ‘weight-washing’ the issue of obesity with expensive advertising, and instead take practical steps to address the core drivers of weight gain.
The group has outlined six key measures that Coca-Cola could implement: reduce the sugar content of high-kilojoule beverages, such as Coke, Fanta and Sprite; stop marketing high-kilojoule beverages to children and young people, including through high-rating TV programs and social media; stop sponsoring sports clubs and events, especially children’s sports; stop the sale of high-kilojoule beverages in all schools and other children’s settings; stop promoting the message that high-kilojoule beverages are part of a healthy, balanced diet; and support physical activity initiatives, but without Coca-Cola or other high-kilojoule beverage branding.
Cancer Council Victoria, Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, Diabetes Australia, Heart Foundation Victoria, Australian Dental Association, Physical Activity Australia, Nutrition Australia, The Parents’ Jury, a Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health from the University of Sydney, and the Obesity Policy Coalition (which includes Diabetes Australia –Victoria and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University) are all signatories to the letter.
‘Coca-Cola has bombarded the public with ads suggesting they are not only committed to helping tackle obesity, but that they are part of the solution,’ said Jane Martin, executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition.
‘If it really wanted to take responsibility and contribute to a reduction in obesity levels in Australia, the company would follow through with our recommendations and not invest countless dollars in over-the-top marketing campaigns.
‘One can of Coke contains ten teaspoons of sugar so it’s no surprise they are sugar-coating their attempt to tackle obesity,’ said Ms Martin.