NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola is taking on obesity, this time with an online video showing how fun it could be to burn off the 140 calories in a can of its soda.
In the ad, the world's biggest beverage maker asks what would happen if people paid for a can of Coke by first working off the calories it contained. The ad, which notes that it typically takes 23 minutes of cycling to achieve that, shows a montage of people on a giant stationary bicycle happily trying to earn a can of its cola, with carnival music playing in the background.
The video is unusual because it so frankly addresses how many calories are in its drink. But it also takes a frequent criticism used by health advocates and spins it in a happy light.
"It's so clever on so many levels, but it's twisted too," said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and author of "Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back."
Simon said she thought the video was a response to the recently released "Fed Up" movie, which is critical of the food industry's marketing tactics. In the movie, a health advocate states that a child would have to bike for an hour and 15 minutes to burn off the calories in a 20-ounce Coke.
Coca-Cola's video comes as soft drinks have faced growing criticism from health advocates who say they fuel obesity and chronic diseases related to diet. Numerous cities have tried to impose special taxes on sugary drinks, although none have succeeded, in large part because of heavy lobbying from the beverage industry.
In New York City, the Board of Health this week asked the state's highest court to reinstate a 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks sold in restaurants, stadiums and other venues. The measure, championed by former mayor Michael Bloomberg, was knocked down by a judge after a lawsuit led by the beverage industry.
Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, began addressing obesity for the first time in a TV ad last year. That ad took a far more serious tone, with a voiceover stating that weight gain is the result of consuming too many calories of any kind, not just soda.
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