There have been several recent columns written by fitness and nutrition experts, listing Coke as a healthy snack during American Heart Awareness Month in February.
The mini can of coke (7.5 ounces instead of the traditional 12 ounces) has been featured on many nutrition blogs, newspapers, and commercials as a “portioned-controlled” way to enjoy the sweet stuff.
Coca Cola isn’t alone in using health experts in this public relations strategy. Kellogg and General Mills have also started giving “education” classes to dietitians and Pepsi-Co has also worked with nutritionists who have suggested its Frito-Lay and Tostito chips in local television ads on healthy eating.
However, one can not say it is surprising that the food industry is focusing on small cans.
Sugary drinks have come under fire for fueling obesity rates and chronic illnesses in recent years. The world’s largest beverage maker, Coca-Cola, is struggling with declining soda consumption in the United States. Thus,the company is pushing its mini-cans as a guilt-free way to enjoy soda. The cans cost more on a per ounce basis, so the company can still boost its sales even if people are drinking less of their products.
“We have a network of dietitians we work with,” says Ben Sheidler, a Coca-Cola spokesperson, told AP about the February paid posts. “Every big brand works with bloggers or has paid talent.” However, no information on how many experts have been paid has since been released.
In a statement, Coca Cola said that the company wants to “help people make decisions that are right for them” and that the company works with health experts “to help bring context to the latest facts and science around our products and ingredients.”
According to a 2012 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adults from 18 states; Blacks had the second highest rates of soda consumption (second to Hispanics surveyed). Mississippi and Tennessee were also the highest offending states on the survey.
Coincidentally both states were ranked by the CDC in 2008 for higher than the national average for heart disease related deaths and with more than two-thirds of the adult population classified as overweight or obese.
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, http://Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at http://www.TheReporterandTheGirl.com