When it comes to flack, there is no question that Coca-Cola catches a lot for its products. It has been criticised for its ingredients and their less than healthy benefits. Last year it overhauled the sprite content making it 30% lighter in calories and offers even smaller cans of drinks from its normal 330ml. One can of 330ml of normal coke contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar which is approximately 30% of our daily recommendation. The facts are there, the theories and conjectures too.
Recently, the Coca-Cola company launched a campaign, Coca-Cola Zero Parklives, investing £20million, 0.1% of its profit into physical fitness by offering free exercise classes in parks around the UK. The campaign is aimed at everyone from age 12 and above with activities such as Tai-Chi, tennis, basketball, hoola hoops etc. Now this has people, me included, an avid diet coke consumer, sceptical about the ulterior motives. Essentially this is a PR strategy to push the brand’s Coke Zero product, highlighting the fact that it has no sugars whatsoever, but I suppose something is better than nothing at all- obesity is a serious problem for our generation lets no kid ourselves, and Coca-Cola is taking the burden off the taxpayer and government.
Critics have scoffed at the idea calling this is a ploy by the company to divert attention from the fact that its high sugar products are linked to obesity and contains e-numbers, whilst supporters argue that this could be an incentive to get health back on the agenda and it is free of charge for all the family to enjoy. Now that’s all well and good but the issue here is not what Coca-Cola is doing- which, however we look at it, is essentially a good thing- but what it is not doing; educating us on the ingredients in its products hence still failing to address the real issue.
One ingredient in particular, Aspartame, has been a cause for concern for several years but despite the many theories out there, we don’t really know enough about it. In broad speak- Aspartame is a low calorie, intense sweetener approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and goes by the E number E951. It was approved as an additive to our foods in 1981 and is added in products for daily consumption from soft drinks to food. It is also alleged to be linked to everything from blindness to brain damage, cancer and a component in chemical warfare.
After various studies and tests, the government still approves the consumption of aspartame at the current levels. Why?
Whilst we can’t always be too careful about what we eat, what we buy from the store because we don’t know how they are produced or what ingredients has gone into the finish product, where possible, we must keep asking these questions and keep seeking answers, because as my late dear friend Ruth said, your health is your wealth. It is the best investment we could possibly make and we would just like to know.