Not everything goes better with Coke. Medical advice certainly doesn't, and neither do organizations whose mission is to promote public health.
That's why we were so disappointed to learn about the American Academy of Family Physicians' new partnership with Coca-Cola Company. Coke is providing a grant to the AAFP to offer health advice related to beverages and sweeteners for FamilyDoctor.org, an award-winning consumer health and wellness resource. It's part of a new AAFP program called the Consumer Alliance, where corporate partners like Coke can "educate consumers about the role their products can play in a healthy, active lifestyle."
At CCFC, we believe that public health organizations should never partner with corporations that market to children. But it is particularly galling that the AAFP would partner with Coke in the midst of an epidemic of childhood obesity. Coca-Cola aggressively markets its products to children in schools, on social networking sites, and through its sponsorship of American Idol, a top-rated show for children ages 2-11. According to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, a child's chances of becoming overweight increases by 60% for each serving of soda they consume a day.
A group of courageous doctors have resigned in protest from the AAFP and called on the organization to return Coke's money. "How can any organization that claims to promote public health join forces with a company that promotes products that put our children at risk for obesity, heart disease and early death?" asked Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services, as he resigned his twenty-five year membership in AAFP.
We are heartened by this activism, but as of now, the AAFP intends to proceed with plans to dispense Coke-sponsored medical advice. We urge you to add your voice to those urging the AAFP to put children's health first.
Please take a moment to tell the AAFP that families need honest information about soft drinks, not sugar-coated corporate spin. And please spread the word to friends and family, and on relevant social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.