Not since the days of Monica Trapaga who used her reputation as a Playschool presenter to “inform” the Australian public that Coco Pops is in fact good for you, have we seen such blatant spin as presented by Coca Cola and Kerry Armstrong in their recent advertising.

Clearly the large community concerns about the link of soft drinks to obesity have sent the accountants running to the marketing people at Coca Cola to see what they can do to turn their sales around.

Kerry Armstrong has sold her wholesome and motherly image for the express purpose of making parents feel comfortable about purchasing Coca Cola. Well if you believe the Coca Cola spin, their products wont make your children fat, nor is caffeine a concern and nor do we need to worry anymore about soft drinks rotting our teeth … Well, if Kerry Armstrong says that it is OK, then it must be true.

In response to Coca Cola advertisement, here are three home truths based on Coca Cola “myths”:

Myth 1: Soft drinks makes you fat: TRUE

In an analysis of the pooled results of 88 studies, it was found that there were clear associations with soft drink intake and increased energy intake and body weight that contribute to medical problems like diabetes. Soft drink intake was also associated with lower intakes of milk, calcium and other nutrients. To pretend that their products are not part of the obesity problem is like saying our coal-fired power stations are not contributing to climate change.

Myth 2: Packed with caffeine: TRUE.

Coca Cola tells us that 250mls of their soft drinks contain only about a third of the level you will find in the same amount of coffee. This is supposed to make us, as parents, feel relieved and that it’s okay to provide our children with caffeine. The fact that you can’t even buy Coke in a container less than 375ml and many young people and children drink much more than 250ml is lost in the argument.

In a major study in the US found that only 8% of regular cola soft drink consumers could detect the effect of the caffeine concentration found in most cola soft drinks. Similar results have also been found in Australian studies. It is important to recognise that the high rate of consumption of caffeinated soft drinks is less about taste but more likely to do with the impact of caffeine on mood and physical dependence.

Myth 3: It rots your teeth: TRUE

To possibly suggest that drinking a product which contains acid and with such high sugar concentration as Coca Cola is not going to add to tooth decay can hardly be even seen to be credible and the Australian Dental Association wholeheartedly agrees. Tooth decay has been increasing in six year olds, and I dare say soft drink consumption has a lot to do with it.

I am sure now Kerry Armstrong will be wondering — with her large cheque in hand — as to whether being associated with Coca Cola, where truth is distorted for commercial benefit, is really worth her reputation.

Craig Sinclair is a spokesperson for the Parents Jury, the Director of Education for the Cancer Council Victoria and a father of two.

Peter Fray

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