Coca-Cola UK just launched the Work It Out Calculator, a tool designed to “to highlight some of the unusual, fun and interesting ways you can achieve energy balance.”
Specifically, the calculator tells consumers how much exercise they’d need to engage in to burn off various beverages.
For example, a can of regular Coke will cost you 32 minutes on the yoga mat, 30 minutes of easy walking, or 22 minutes of aerobics. But you can burn through a serving of Vitamin Water after just 11 minutes of yoga, 10 minutes of easy walking, or 7 minutes of aerobics.
While the tool could be useful for helping consumers quantify, compare, and weigh the impacts of their decisions, it also paints a picture of physical activity as a form of punishment to burn off evil, unnecessary calories.
And wow, look! You don’t have to exercise at all to rid yourself of a Diet Coke! Back to the couch, America! But wait…where’s the “health impacts of aspartame” calculator? Must have forgotten that one.
Admittedly, Coca-Cola does provide a few paragraphs about the benefits of exercise. But the whole premise of the calculator is “how long do I need to exercise to burn off this soda?” That’s not exactly sending a positive message about the benefits of enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle.
Likewise, the Work It Out website provides an almost comical section on Nutrition. Under the heading: Do sparkling drinks have any nutritional value? they note, “Sparkling drinks sweetened with sugar provide water for hydration and carbohydrate calories that the body can use as fuel for daily activities.” Seems like a bit of a stretch when “no” probably would have sufficed.
Providing consumers with information to make healthier choices is definitely a good thing. But perhaps the soft drink giant should re-think the tone and context of their messaging.
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