Americans have been drinking Coca-Cola for well over a century. We've been enjoying it during baseball games, in our pizza parlors, at the movies, and even in mixed cocktails for many generations. But as obesity rates - and the illnesses associated - hit a record high, many health advocates have been taking proactive strides to create change.
In comes 'Change The Tune', a public service advertisement funded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a national watchdog group. Adapted from Coca-Cola's iconic 'Hilltop' campaign, the ad focuses on the detrimental effects of drinking sugary beverages like Coca-Cola.
But instead of singing that they'd 'like to buy the world a Coke', real-life Americans with a number of different diet-induced medical conditions sing a cautionary tale in a very dark manner, complete with a 'Truth' campaign style shot of a Diabetes 2 patient injecting insulin into his stomach.
While I understand the obesity crisis in this country is something we must take control over, does anyone else feel like this ad is making a lot of sweeping generalizations about people who have these kinds of conditions?
Granted, nutrition is a HUGE factor, but specifically calling out soda and making implications that soda alone caused these people to acquire their medical conditions is a little much.
To conclude that sugary beverages are the only reason people acquire Diabetes 2, hypertension, tooth decay, or obesity (they LITERALLY write 'fighting soda-related obesity') is to suspend everything we have learned about human genetics.
For starters, Diabetes 2 has been stigmatized as a 'fat person' condition, when in all actuality, it is a highly genetic condition that affects Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics at a proven and disproportionate rate. While diet can play a factor, of course, it is certainly not always the case for everyone.
The same argument could be made for obesity. Now, you can easily gain weight if you take more calories in than you expel, but research has also shown that metabolism ranges greatly from person to person. And surely, when someone is overweight, it would be pretty impossible to pinpoint something as specific as soda as the cause. (That's like those people who omit baby carrots from their diet because they read somewhere it causes cancer. Many, many factors usually go into why a person's diagnosed with cancer, and I don't think indulging in a 3-ounce bag of baby carrots is going to kill you.)
Similar arguments regarding genetics can also be made for hypertension and people prone to tooth decay. (No, seriously, those teeth can fall out from sweets AND genetics).
Ultimately, I'm not saying that it isn't possible for unhealthy diet habits to cause certain medical conditions. I'm just saying that pinpointing one specific food and saying "This thing specifically caused this guy's high blood pressure problem!" is like the nutritional equivalent of witch-hunting when the reality is no one really knows any of this for certain. And I know I can't be the only one who feels like this commercial is only fueling the stigma we have against what is popularly perceived as 'fat people conditions'.
Moral of the story: Throw out the Coke. But throw out the perpetuation of stereotypes too.