The plan also outlined a commitment to support physical activity
programs, and the expansion of transparent nutrition information
and low- and no-calorie options to emerging markets. Coca-Cola
didn't set deadlines or targets for the initiatives, which are
intended to apply to more than 200 countries.
Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent has been working to
counter the perception that the soft-drink maker contributes to
America's obesity epidemic. Coca-Cola earlier this year introduced
advertisements highlighting the company's low- and zero-calorie
products and suggesting people pay attention to how many calories
they consume in order to manage their weight. It also has been
working on introducing smaller portion sizes of its products and
said it will continue innovating drinks made with natural
zero-calorie sweeteners like stevia.
"People in these countries are going to be aware of these health
issues so Coke wants to be prepared," Jack Russo, an analyst with
Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, said today in a telephone
interview. "The regulators and governments are going to get more
involved with this entire issue."
Almost 36% of adults and about 17% of children are obese in the
U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in Atlanta. Obesity is measured by using weight and height to
calculate a number called body mass index, according to the CDC. An
adult who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 203 pounds or more is
Earlier this year, New York City challenged a ruling throwing
out Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposal to restrict sales of
large-size soda drinks, calling the plan "contrary to law."
The city's Board of Health last year approved the plan to cap
the size of sugary soft drinks sold in restaurants, movie theaters,
stadiums and arenas at 16 ounces (473 milliliters) a cup. In
October, groups representing beverage makers, restaurants and
theaters asked the court to end the regulation, citing
Between 2009 and 2011, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc. and the American
Beverage Association spent as much as $70 million on lobbying and
issue ads, according to the Center for Science in the Public
Interest, a proponent of soda taxes. The money helped defeat
efforts to enact such levies in 30 states.
--Bloomberg News with additional contributions from Advertising