There you go again…


As Ronald Reagan once said: “There you go again.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is once again at their litigious best. They are challenging The Coca-Cola Company for their claims surrounding their Glaceau VitaminWater brand, citing the use of terms such as “defense,” “rescue,” “energy,” and “endurance”  as misleading “health buzz words.” They also note that each bottle contains 33 grams sugar which they suggest will  

promote obesity, diabetes and other health problems.
Let’s review the facts:

    1. The so-called “health claims” under question fall into the category of structure/function claims. That is, if there is a certain bed of evidence that an ingredient might contribute to improved health, the product is allowed to tout that fact. For example, antioxidants or Zinc don’t cure colds, but they might promote a healthy immune system. So a flavor called “Defense” containing vitamin C and Zinc has precedence as immune enhancing so long as it does not imply it is solving a disease state. The shelves are full of products and supplements that make these kinds of claims. Singling out VitaminWater at this late date appears overblown.
    2. The calories. A 20 ounce bottle of VitaminWater contains approximately the same number of calories as a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola, or 7.5 calories per ounce of beverage versus 12 calories per ounce for a Coke. That’s almost a 40% reduction in the amount of calories per ounce.
    3. Complaint that VitaminWater is too expensive. This is consistent with CSPI’s stances in the past. CSPI expresses an anti-capitalist posture and disapproves of corporations making a profit. The issue is lowering calories, not whether the bottom line is excessive or not.

The first step in finally solving America’s obesity crisis is to encourage corporations to lower the calories per ounce sold to consumers. While I can’t disagree with the CSPI that whole foods are more nutritionally dense than processed foods and beverages, we would be asking too much to expect consumers to change overnight to 100% water products and a vegetarian diet. Americans have a love affair with great tasting foods and beverages and the best place to focus our energies is to decrease the calories in our most popular foods and drinks. VitaminWater is one way to keep customers in the Coca-Cola fold while offering lower calories per ounce compared to their traditional offerings.

3 Responses to “There you go again…”

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