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VIEW: CSPI says Coke sponsorship an ‘Olympic error’

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest is an independent non-profit consumer health group. They produce the Nutrition Action Healthletter, which has 900,000 readers in the United States and Canada.
In the March 2010 edition of Nutrition Action, CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson asks, “Why (was) Coca-Cola the major corporate sponsor of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics?”

He asks because, “Soft drinks likely contribute to obesity more than any other single food or beverage (and) obesity increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney and uterus.”

He writes, “The underfunded World Health Organization is trying to help countries trim the human and economic cost of diet-related disease. Some ideas that are percolating: label added sugars in processed foods, limit marketing to children, get junk foods out of schools, and protect precious healthcare budgets. But efforts like those are undermined when the powerful International Olympic Committee teams up with multinational giant Coca-Cola.”

Jacobson continues, “Coca-Cola is under attack from health experts in North America and elsewhere for promoting obesity so the company is willing to pay big bucks to associate its brand with athleticism, clean living and health. Using the talented athletes as bait, Coca-Cola has no doubt convinced millions of children, in Canada and around the world, that it is a responsible, health-conscious corporate citizen.”

He adds, “As Coca-Cola’s ads were being drummed into people’s heads at every opportunity (during the Games), did you hear anything about… the health benefits of drinking tap water? Didn’t think so.”

Jacobson has also written in the Huffington Post that, “The company is fending off unproven but troubling charges ranging from complicity in the deaths of union officials in Colombia to marketing to school kids in Mexico to using up ground water in parched Indian villages.”

A media release issued by the India Resource Center just this past week notes that, “Data obtained… from the Central Groundwater Board, a government agency, confirms that groundwater levels in Kala Dera fell precipitously again – a drop of 4.29 meters in just one year between August 2008 and August 2009…”

The Council of Canadians also raised these concerns in our statement on the 2010 Olympics at www.canadians.org/olympics/statement.html and our fact sheet ‘Water privatization, Coca-Cola and the Olympics’ at www.canadians.org/olympics/documents/Olympics-Coke.pdf.

For more about the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, please go to www.cspinet.org/canada.