Coca-Cola Pays Nutritionists to Promote Coke as Heart Healthy

by SM Gibson

Did you realize that last month was American Heart Month? Coca-Cola sure did.

The corporate soft drink giant, who has been trying to combat declining sales in the United States, has begun partnering with fitness experts and nutritionists to promote a mini-can of Coke as a ‘healthy’ snack. In February, the idea of drinking a mini-Coke for heart health was suggested on many nutrition blogs and even in major newspapers and websites.

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“We have a network of dietitians we work with,” said Coca-Cola spokesman, Ben Sheidler. “Every big brand works with bloggers or has paid talent.”

Sheidler believes that such tactics are similar to product placement deals that a company may have with various television programs and films.

Robyn Flipse, who is a registered dietitian, states that  “portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal” will help “you manage your weight for better heart health.”  The catch is in the fine print though. If you manage to read all the way to the last line of Ms. Flipse’s bio located at the absolute bottom of the page, you will find that “she is multimedia spokesperson and consultant to global food and beverage companies, including The Coca-Cola Company.”

Another ‘expert’, Norma Rixter recommends that you “limit yourself to a single-serving – one 100-calorie snack or look for a refreshing beverage option such as a mini can of Coca-Cola,”  Again, at the very bottom of the page you will find a description of Mrs. Rixter’s credentials. It reads, “Norma Rixter is certified as a Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist who helps individuals, businesses including The Coca-Cola Company.”

These smaller cans (7.5 oz.), which are being promoted by ‘authorities on nutrition’, contain 90 calories as opposed to the 140 calories found in a typical 12 oz. can of Coke. All of the calories in both sizes are from high-fructose corn syrup.

Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University and a member of the nutrition committee at the American Heart Association, believes a smaller portion of soda is possibly a “move in the right direction” for frequent soda drinkers. Still, she said that she would not recommend soda as a snack.

Of course, Coca-Cola is not the only corporation to employ this deceitful tactic of advertisement. Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Nestle have also paid nutritionists to promote their brands as well. Pepsi has also hired dietitians to promote Frito-Lay and Tostito chips as healthy eating.

So the next time you hear a ‘specialist’ promote something that you know isn’t good for you, it’s probably best you take this old but steadfast advice. Always follow the money.

SM Gibson writes for, where this article first appeared. Tune in to the Anti-Media radio show Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eeastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos: [email protected].

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