At the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative yesterday, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper vowed to help consumers cut the number of calories they consume through beverages by one-fifth over the next decade. According to the Times, this was an "acknowledgment by the companies of the role their products play in the country’s obesity crisis and the escalating rates of diabetes and heart disease that accompany it." Or, a gigantic PR move, depending on who you ask.
To meet these goals, the companies say they'll use advertising and new packaging to better educate consumers about the nutritional facts in their products, specifically the amount of calories per serving. They'll also better promote their lower calorie options, including diet sodas, bottle waters and certain sports beverages to encourage buyers to make more responsible caloric choices. Customers will see these changes at "company-owned vending machines and coolers in convenience stores, as well as fountain soda dispensers like those found in fast-food restaurants and movie theaters."
Health advocates have pushed for soft drink companies to better manage their role in the country's obesity epidemic as efforts on a government level have failed. Critics aren't convinced this latest move stems from good intentions, however; as sales of sugary drinks are declining, the brands are looking for ways to promote their "healthier" options while simultaneously gaining to goodwill of the people. "All the trends are showing decreased consumption of high-calorie beverages, and so what better way to get a public relations boost than to promise to do what's happening anyway?" questions obesity expert Kelly Brownell.
Whether a righteous campaign to better our country or a slick move to gain better favor with consumers, anything that potentially puts an end to those horrifying glass of fat subway ads is a step in the right direction.