Coke says one can a week 'not unhealthy' as obesity row rages

Coca-Cola says its high sugar soft drinks aren't bad in moderation. Photo / Getty
Coca-Cola says its high sugar soft drinks aren't bad in moderation. Photo / Getty

Coca-Cola would prefer to see more people drinking less of its products rather than a few people drinking a lot. So one can a week is quite alright, according to the folks from Coke.

The comment, made by Coca-Cola Amatil, was in response to a leading US academic who has urged Australians to lobby for changes to junk food and soft drink advertising.

Coca-Cola Amatil, which distributes Coca-Cola products in New Zealand and Australia, reacted by saying its high sugar soft drinks aren't bad in moderation.

"If you consume one can like that a week, no, I don't think that's unhealthy," Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Alison Watkins told ABC news.

When asked if the company could make money if everyone drank one can of fizzy drink per week, she replied, "We would much rather have lots of people drinking small amounts of our product than to have a small number of people drinking a lot of our product."

But the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) was quick to dispute the fizzy drink giant's reasoning, saying that water was still the ideal drink.

"It is unhealthy, [Coca-Cola] has no basis in saying that. It's out of context of a healthy diet," DAA accredited practicing dietitian Arlene Normand said.

"They're basically just trying to promote Coke. I can understand that reasoning, that it's better to have one coke [a week] than a coke every day, but the more you have, the more you crave. Ideally, people should be drinking water."

The stoush ignited after leading researcher Professor Marion Nestle, from New York University, criticized soft drink companies, saying they were distorting the truth about their products in order to keep profits growing.

"There is so much evidence now that drinking sugars in the form of liquids is not good for health," she said during a lecture at a Sydney University.

Professor Nestle also claimed the soft drink industry did everything it possibly could to discourage any warnings about consuming its products.

She went on to explain that fizzy drink manufacturers fund scientific research to push back against claims their sugary soft drinks contribute to excessive weight gain.

Part of the problem, said Professor Nestle, was that many countries did not conduct any of their own objective research into the potentially harmful effects of fizzy drink, and its role in the obesity epidemic.

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