Coca-Cola ‘not to blame for US obesity’

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.

“This is an important, complicated societal issue that we all have to work together to provide a solution,” Kent told the Wall Street Journal in an interview this week.

“That’s why we are working with government, business and civil society to have active lifestyle programs in every country we operate by 2015,” he said.

His remarks came just weeks after the health-conscious Bloomberg proposed a ban on supersized soft drinks that would restrict the sale to 16-ounce servings, more than an average can but far less than the bucket-sized beverages offered at cinemas, service stations and sporting events.

Kent said Coca-Cola has diversified from its namesake, offering a wide range of healthy teas, juices, sports drinks and other products.

“We’ve gone from being a single-beverage, single-brand company to now 500-plus brands, 3 000 products. Eight hundred of these products we’ve introduced in the last four or five years are calorie-free or low-calorie.

“It is, I believe, incorrect and unjust to put the blame on any single ingredient, any single product, any single category of food,” he said.

Bloomberg said the proposed ban was needed to confront the “epidemic” of obesity in the United States, which contributes to rising health costs.

Critics have derided the proposed ban as a “nanny state” overreach of government power.

They have also faulted the mayor for seeking to restrict certain unhealthy habits – like smoking and sugary drinks – while the city hosts eat-athons like the annual Coney Island hot dog competition.

The proposed measure would target fast-food and other restaurants, delis, and places of public entertainment like stadiums. It would not cover drinks sold in supermarkets or any diet, fruit, dairy or alcoholic drinks.

AMA votes for policy that recognizes soda taxes as one way to fight obesity

America’s largest physician organization recommended on this week that taxes levied on sugar-sweetened sodas be used to fight the country’s growing obesity crisis.

But the policy statement adopted by the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates meeting in Chicago fell short of outright support for taxing sugar-sweetened beverages to control use of these products.

Two recommendations to support such taxes put before the group’s policy-making body in prior meetings failed to pass.

“While there is no silver bullet that will alone reverse the meteoric rise of obesity, there are many things we can do to fight this epidemic and improve the health of our nation,” AMA board member Dr Alexander Ding said in a statement.

The physician’s group pointed to several studies showing that intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is strongly and consistency linked with increased body weight and a number of health conditions like type 2 diabetes.

According to the AMA, sugarsweetened drinks make up nearly half of Americans’ added sugar intake, and cutting consumption of these beverages is a simple way to reduce intake of sugar and empty calories…. Read more