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Coca-Cola's Cahillane Comments on Obesity


Tuesday on CNBC, Steve Cahillane, president of the Americas for Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO), addressed the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and discussed the company's new advertising campaign.

Cahillane referred to the campaign as “calories in, calories out,” in which Coke is urging consumers to become more aware of the calories they are putting in their body, and then to find ways to burn off excess calories.

Almost 36 percent of adults and about 17 percent of children are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In response to criticism by health groups and nutritionists, Coca-Cola and other related companies are offering lower-calorie products and smaller portions.

“I don't believe the company is under attack when talking about obesity,” Cahillane said. “We have just decided to step up our participation in the debate.”

Nutritionists aren't doing people a favor by telling them to cut out certain foods or drinks from their diets, according to Cahillane. Coke's campaign is about making choices on what you want, and then having it be a part of your active and healthy diet.

Coke is not trying to convince you that Diet Cola is a good substitution or that one choice is better than another; rather, Coke is attempting to “inspire people to move more.”

Cahillane also addressed the charge that failing to disclose calories in food could be a contributor to the obesity epidemic.

“We have made advertisements like this in the past but are stepping it up more because the obesity epidemic has become an epidemic,” Cahillane said.

He believes it is difficult to find cause and effect for obesity, “the science behind it is not a robust science.” There is no simple solution for obesity.

Cahillane also addressed the possibility of cutbacks because of the payroll tax increase. He said there is fear of cutbacks for any consumable food but is optimistic that consumers will continue to purchase coke products.

Shares of Coca-Cola rallied 0.40 percent on Tuesday.


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