PRESS: Coca-Cola Launches ‘Healthy’ Drink for Kids in India – With More Sugar than Coca-Cola
For Immediate Release
October 10, 2018
New Delhi: The Coca-Cola Company in India has launched a new “healthy and nutritious beverage” geared towards “active, growing children” that contains more sugar than Coca-Cola.
Minute Maid Smoothie, the newly introduced beverage under the company’s “Health and Wellness” portfolio, contains 12.6 grams of sugar per 100 ml.
Coca-Cola contains 11 grams of sugar per 100 ml in India, according to the company’s own nutrition facts published on its website.
“Children are picky eaters and are always look for something tasty, mothers often find it tough to balance between nutrition and taste. MM Smoothie contains real mango juice that gives it a great taste kids love, puree of banana which makes it filling, goodness of whole milk that mothers trust and topped up with nutrients such as Vitamin B3, B6, Vitamin E, Zinc and Calcium that play a key role in metabolism and building strength and stamina,” said Vijay Parasuraman, Vice President, Coca-Cola India & South West Asia in a press release dated September 3, 2018.
Added sugar intake, and particularly sugar intake through sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods, have been found to increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
As a result, national and local authorities globally have responded with efforts to curb the consumption of sugar, and countries including India have introduced sin taxes on sugar sweetened beverages.
The primary target group for Minute Maid Smoothie are children, and it is then even more astounding that the sugar in just one Minute Maid Smoothie (which comes in a 200 ml pack) exceeds the daily recommended allowance of added sugar for children as set by the American Heart Association (AHA).
The AHA recommends less that 25 grams of added sugars daily for kids aged 2-18. Just one Minute Maid Smoothie package contains 25.2 grams of sugar!
“Adding vitamins to a sugar loaded drink does not make it healthy. This sugar laden product has no place in a balanced diet for children in India, and Coca-Cola must stop its efforts to promote it as such,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center.
The India Resource Center has also written to the Ministry of Women and Child Development in India asking that the product’s launch not be made nationwide, and calling for an end to Coca-Cola’s promotion of the product as healthy.
Public health experts also voiced concerns about Coca-Cola’s latest offering targeting children.
"Children should obtain vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet containing whole grains, and fruits and vegetables – not from unwholesome sugar-sweetened beverages that contain these nutrients as additives. The reason Coca-Cola puts these additives into this product is to trick parents into thinking that the Minute Maid Smoothie is healthy. But it's not. This is a form of deceptive marketing called 'health-washing’," said Dr. Laura Schmidt, Professor of Health Policy in the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
"Not all children are picky eaters, but every human can be tricked into liking food if you add sugar to it. Parents can choose wisely without sacrificing nutrition, taste or money. It's cheaper to give them the two best ingredients in the smoothie independently. Water and fresh fruit, with all the fibre and nutrition that comes along with it, are far healthier than the smoothie. So eat local, natural and fresh – and ditch the sugar, the diabetes, and the deception by the food industry,” said Dr. Raj Patel, Research Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
“It is profoundly disturbing to hear that Minute Maid Smoothie contains more sugar that Coca-Cola but is being targeted towards children as healthy and nutritious; this constitutes a truly bad faith marketing campaign,” said Dr. Sanjay Basu, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.
Selling such an unhealthy product to children in India also raise concerns about how the Atlanta based Coca-Cola Company practices a set of double standards, often racist, in order to maximize profits and increase market share in developing countries such as India.
“A grossly unhealthy products such as Minute Maid Smoothie targeted towards children in the name of health and nutrition would never make it to market in places such as the US and EU because of the backlash and reprisals from consumers as well as regulatory agencies. However, Coca-Cola finds it absolutely acceptable to push such unhealthy products to kids in India. This is nothing short of racism, where Indian kid’s lives and health matter less than those in developed countries,” said Srivastava.
Coca-Cola’s practices in India have come under scrutiny in the past for selling sub-standard drinks that contain excessive levels of pesticides. The company has also been ordered shut factories in India because of mismanagement of water resources across the country.
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +91 98103 46161 (India) E: info@IndiaResource.org
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