Two cola giants are in the news — one is getting heat for its association with a controversial message, while the other is making a significant change to a key ingredient.
The New York Times reports that Coke is being criticized for teaming with “influential scientists” who urge people to focus on getting more exercise while also worrying less about how much they eat and drink.
The scientists advance their view in medical journals, at conferences and through social media, the newspaper reports.
The NYT reports that Coke is providing “financial and logistical support” to help those scientists disseminate their message through a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network.
That organization’s spokesperson — Steven Blair, a professor at the University of South Carolina “whose research over the past 25 years has formed much of the basis of federal guidelines on physical activity,” according to the NYT — said in a statement:
Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is that they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much, blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on. And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that in fact is the cause.
However, the NYT reports that health experts characterize this message as an effort to draw attention away from criticism that sugary sodas have received for their connection with medical problems such as obesity and diabetes.
The effort also comes at a time of public backlash against sugary soda. The nation’s largest city attempted to ban sales of large portions of soda (albeit unsuccessfully) and a federal lawmaker has introduced legislation that would tax sugary drinks.
Coca-Cola competitor Pepsi is also in the headlines this week.
The company announced Monday that its products Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi are now available without the artificial sweetener aspartame.
A press release states they will instead be sweetened with “a blend of sucralose,” which is the main ingredient in the artificial sweetener marketed under the brand name Splenda.
The sucralose-sweetened versions will be available across the U.S.
To learn more about what’s really in your favorite soft drink, check out “What’s Really in Your Soda?”
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