You read it right. As of yesterday, the biggest producer of SUGARY FIZZY DRINKS in the WORLD has teamed up with UK Active to help those Coke-guzzling Brits get healthy. The new fitness programme dubbed Coca-Cola Zero Parklives, plans to offer thousands of free sessions and coaching for families in over 70 parks across England.
So far so confused. Since the announcement, nutrition campaigners have been up in arms, even calling the campaign "obscene." But Coca-Cola has been pushing an international anti-obesity message since 2013 with the Happiness is Movement campaign:
Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist and science director for the Action on Sugar campaign group, told The Daily Telegraph: "I think this is a really disingenuous stunt. They are trying to deflect attention from their own part in creating an obesity epidemic, which has been fuelled almost entirely by rising calorie consumption."
Since fizzy drinks and fruit juices have received such negative attention from health authorities and the media due to their high sugar content, it is hardly surprising that Coca-Cola want to try clean up their image.
In the UK, a report commissioned by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that children aged between 4 and 18 months are consuming around 40% more sugar than is recommended. In the U.S., report from the 2005-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that Americans consume about 22.2 teaspoons of added sugar a day or 355 calories worth. The average American woman is recommended only 100 calories worth of sugar day and a man shouldn't have more than 150.
Both countries also suggest that drinks like Coca-Cola contributed to the higher intake of added sugars.
Thankfully, Canadians are doing a little better. Added sugars make up about 11% of caloric intake a day, which is far lower than "the maximum of 25% in the Dietary Reference Intakes that form the basis of Canada's dietary guidance." Nevertheless, Canada still has an weight issue. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development recently found that 1 in 4 Canadians are obese. So, yeah, ya'll could benefit from Coca-Cola yoga, too!
But, and it's a big but, while Coca-Cola is packed full of sugar (the stuff can clean toilets for goodness sake), and even Diet Coke can lead to weight gain, we're the ones who choose whether to consume it or not.
No one from Coca-Cola is going out there and forcing you to buy their products. We buy them because they taste so damn good and it's the only thing that can ward off a particularly bad hangover. Personally, I don't buy Coke because I think it's healthy. I'd like to believe no-one else is that stupid either.
So aside from the health professionals, here's what the Brits had to say about the new initiative:
So if Coca-Cola want to rid their conscience and offer FREE fitness classes around the UK, many Brits are probably going to participate!
Yes, it's hypocritical and a rather obvious marketing ploy but it's a hell of a lot more than other companies are going to do for you. And at the end of the day and in these hard times we face, you should never turn down sh*t if it's free.
Do you think CA needs a Coke-sponsored fitness program? Tweet us at @wewomenCA and join the debate.