New innovations to improve health, from advocates to soda executives.
The link between soda and obesity came to a head with New York’s proposed ban on soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. What can the city—and the soft drink companies— do to improve health?
Last year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was overruled in his bid to ban the sale of sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. The thinking was simple: reduce soda consumption and you reduce obesity. But would this effort have been effective? And what can the City of New York do now?
Water should not be marketed as a convenience or a precaution against disaster; it should be marketed as a choice. But how will the health department of one city compete with an industry that spends over $3 billion a year on advertising? Don’t the soda companies have an advantage there? Yes. But the city has one advantage over the soda companies: it owns this town.
The world’s largest beverage company, Coca-Cola, is also among the most active in trying to promote healthy living. But is this a contradiction? In 2011, Americans consumed 8.8 trillion calories from Coca-Cola beverages—equivalent to the calorie content of more than half of the entire U.S. beef industry. What has Coke done to help fight obesity, and is it enough?
Coca-Cola has already invested time and money creating a diverse portfolio of quality low-calorie beverages. The challenge now is to get more people to try them. But fear of hurting the soda business may be holding the company back. What might Coca-Cola do at the restaurant level—and in the grocery store—to sell more healthy beverages without angering consumers?
Changing the formula is a bold move—and it backfired with New Coke in the 1980s. But boldness is required when 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese. Could a gradual reduction in the calorie count transform the obesity debate?
It’s easy enough to advocate for change—but how would the company actually make it happen? What would it tell beverage lovers? When would it tell them? Here’s the plan: step by step, year by year, calorie by calorie...
Coca-Cola advocates active living whenever the topic of obesity is raised. Could it transform this talking point into an innovative new business model by creating its own gym? What would a gym by Coca-Cola look like? Would it eliminate weights and dumbbells? Would it be interactive? Could it be free?
If soft drinks are so perilous for our health, why do we persist in drinking them? What does the average consumer get from this “affordable luxury”? To change the industry, you have to appreciate the industry.
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