Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 24, 2003
WCR Letters to the Editor
Coke sings its own story
Suzanne Elston's Sept. 29 article, "There's no nutritious, free gift," contained several inaccuracies about carbonated soft drinks in schools, Coca-Cola's relationship with Reading is Fundamental, and the root causes of childhood obesity.
First, allow me to clear up some misinformation about the availability of beverages in schools. Coca-Cola offers a wide range of products from juices and juice drinks to waters, iced tea, soft drinks and sports drinks.
The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers respect the right of parents, teachers and educators to decide which products should be made available to students, where and when they can be offered.
School-business partnerships such as ours have been a reality for many years and this is not a new development spurred by school budget cuts, as Ms. Elston suggests. Also, it is the policy of The Coca-Cola Company not to market to children.
We're proud of our company's support for Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and that our $18-million donation is the largest grant RIF has received from a single company. Research indicates that 70 per cent of Grade 4 in the U.S.'s highest-need schools cannot read at basic grade level, and 32 per cent of students in the U.S. cannot read at grade level by the time they reach Grade 4.
The Coca-Cola Company has always believed that education is a powerful force in improving the quality of life and creating opportunity for people around the world. Ms. Elston is right: this investment is "paying off big time" - literacy rates are increasing.
Ms. Elston's suggestion that soft drinks are causing obesity among children is simply not supported by science.
Obesity is a complex problem, and blaming one type of food won't resolve this serious health issue. Indeed, scientific research indicates that all foods can fit in a healthy active lifestyle and that physical activity is a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle.
Over the past two decades, obesity among children has increased 10 per cent. During that same time, the caloric intake of children has increased only one per cent, while physical activity among children has declined by 13 per cent.
The correlation between obesity and physical inactivity is clear.
To address positive youth development, the Coca-Cola Company promotes fun, active living through programs around the world.
In the U.S. more than 250,000 young people are challenged to take 10,000 steps a day through Coca-Cola's Step With It program; Copa Coca-Cola is a football program for more than 100,000 young athletes throughout the Americas: and Austria's Vienna City marathon, sponsored by Coca-Cola, draws more than 4,000 junior participants.
In Canada, Coca-Cola has been donating books and setting up reading circles in local libraries and schools through its Share the Stories program. Coca-Cola in Canada is proud to support a number of youth development and literacy organizations such as ABC Canada, kids.now, Kid's Help Phone, kidsport, and Variety Village among others.
We're also active in Concerned Children's Advertisers' Children's Healthy Active Living Program, a social marketing program building on the success of CCA's TV & Me media and life skills program.
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