Coca-Cola reveals new policy

The global drinks giant pledges to take lead in the war against obesity.

New Statesman
Photograph: Getty Images.

Coca-Cola will drive the obesity battle by adopting clearer calorie-count labels on its drinks and pledged not to market its products to children under 12, as part of its new policy.

The world’s largest beverage company, which didn’t disclosed a timeline or an estimated cost of the initiatives, said it would encourage consumers to adopt more active lifestyles and apply all the measures in the 200 countries where it operates.

In the recent times Coca-Cola was criticized by health experts and lawmakers for high calorie content in its drinks, which is leading to obesity particularly in children under 12.

Ali Dibadj, analyst at investment group Bernstein, told the Financial Times: “They need to take this head-on given all the pressure they’re facing, certainly from a regulatory perspective and without a doubt from the consumer perspective.”

Dibadj added: “They’re trying to get ahead of it. If they get painted with this bad-guy brush, I’m not convinced they have the support of the local communities and the local governments that they really need for all the local distribution, manufacturing and buy-in to grow the business.”

Marion Nestle, a public health professor at New York University, told FT: “Behind the scenes they’re lobbying, they’re fighting every single government attempt to try to limit sales of their products.”

“There is a place for all of our beverages in a healthy lifestyle,” said Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, adding that Coke was not shifting away from its flagship brand or reducing overall sales of its carbonated drinks.

Coke, which first promised to stop marketing to children in 2007, also said that nearly 25 per cent of its 3,500 beverages, including juices and water, have few or zero calories. However, such products are not available in all markets.