Take Action: Health Education Does Not Go Better with Coke

Advocates Urge American Academy of Family Physicians to End Coca -Cola Partnership

Things don’t always go better with Coke. That’s why the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a letter-writing campaign urging the American Academy of Family Physicians to end a planned partnership with the Coca-Cola Company. As part of a new AAFP program called the Consumer Alliance, Coke is providing a reported six-figure grant to the AAFP to “educate consumers about the role their products can play in a healthy, active lifestyle” on the AAFP’s award winning website, FamilyDoctor.org.

“In the midst of an epidemic of childhood obesity, it’s shocking that the AAFP would partner with a company that aggressively markets empty calories to children,” said CCFC’s Director Dr. Susan Linn.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, a child’s chances of becoming overweight increases by 60% for each serving of soda they consume a day. Yet, the Coca-Cola Company markets to children in schools, on social networking sites, and through its sponsorship of American Idol, a top-rated show for children ages 2-11.

“Medical organizations should provide objective information about the negative impact that soft drink consumption has on children’s health,” said Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children’s Center. “They shouldn’t exploit parents’ trust to help beverage companies market their brands.”

The AAFP/Coke partnership has sparked protest from family physicians around the country, including some who have resigned from the AAFP. “How can any organization that claims to promote public health join forces with a company that promotes products that put our children at risk for obesity, heart disease and early death?” asked Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services, as he resigned his twenty-five year membership.

CCFC has launched a letter-writing campaign to support the courageous doctors who are demanding that AAFP’s leadership end the partnership.

“It is disappointing that the AAFP would assist Coca-Cola in the company’s obvious attempt to buy credibility,” said Michele Simon, research and policy director at Marin Institute and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back. “But it’s heartening that so many AAFP members are demanding that their organization stay true to its mission to promote public health.”

1 Comment

  1. December 22, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    AAFP Pushes Ahead with Coke Sponsorship

    We are disappointed to report that the American Academy of Family Physicians plans to go ahead with their planned partnership with Coca-Cola. Nevertheless, we are heartened by the many AAFP members who contacted us to thank us for our efforts and to let us know that our campaign has helped galvanize opposition to the partnership within the AAFP. They plan to continue protesting this ill-advised partnership. And if you haven’t already, you can too by visiting http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1860.

    The AAFP plans to introduce the new Coke-sponsored content on its Family Doctor website in mid-January, but there are already reasons to be concerned. According to a “coming soon” announcement-replete with the Coca-Cola logo-on FamilyDoctor.org, (insert link) the sponsored page will include information about “Hydration Education.” As CCFC Steering Committee member Michele Simon documents in her book Appetite for Profit, the whole field of “Hydration Education” is a ruse by beverage marketers to sell sports drinks by convincing us that severe dehydration is a major threat to our wellbeing. Unless you’re running a marathon, water hydrates just as well – and doesn’t contribute to real public health problems like childhood obesity.

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