COCA COLA: Liquid Candy
Excerpt from the Multinational Monitor's Ten Worst Corporations of 1998
by Russell Mokhiber

Children in the United States are drowning in soda pop. And Coca-Cola,
the Atlanta-based junk drink pusher, with its worldwide domination of
the industry and relentless marketing, is in large part responsible for
an epidemic of oversugared kids.

Today, teenage boys and girls in the United States drink twice as much
soda pop as milk, whereas 20 years ago they drank nearly twice as much
milk as soda.

According to a recent report by the Center for Science in the Public
Interest, the average 12-to-19-year old male drinks 868 cans of soda pop
a year.

The average 13-to-18-year-old male who consumes soda pop consumes more
than three 12-ounce cans per day, while 10 percent of those males drink
seven or more cans a day.

The average 13- to-18-year-old female soda drinker imbibes more than
two cans a day, and 10 percent of females consume five or more cans a

Overall, people in the United States are consuming twice as much soda
pop as they did 25 years ago. And they're spending $54 billion a year on
it. That's twice what is spent on books every year.

"Kids are drowning in soda pop," says Michael F. Jacobson, executive
director of the Center.

It's become their main beverage, providing many kids with 20 to 40
percent of their calories. Soda is squeezing more-nutritious foods and
beverages out of their diets. It's high time that parents limited their
children's soft-drink consumption and demanded that local schools get
rid of their soft-drink vending machines, just as they have banished

Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, a bone-disease expert at the Jean Mayer USDA
Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston,
says she is particularly concerned about teenaged girls.

"Most girls have inadequate calcium intakes, which makes them
candidates for osteoporosis when they're older and may increase their
risk for broken bones today," Dr. Dawson-Hughes says. "High soda
consumption is a concern because it may displace milk from the diet in
this vulnerable population."

Studies described in the report indicate that diets high in sugary
foods like soft drinks may increase the risk of heart disease in
"insulin resistant" adults. Other research links cola consumption to
kidney stones in men.

Coca-Cola is a relentless pusher of its product. Coke and other soft
drink companies have started paying millions of dollars for exclusive
marketing rights in schools and other locations frequented by

Coca-Cola, for example, is paying the Boys & Girls Clubs of America $60
million to make its company's products the only brands sold in more than
2,000 clubs.

Marianne Manilov, the executive director of the Oakland,
California-based Center for Commercialism-Free Public Education
castigates schools "for sacrificing their students"health by selling
out to Coca-Cola.

"The marketing agreements virtually ensure that more kids will be
drinking more soda - while their health classes are discouraging
consumption," Manilov says.

"Taxpayers must provide school systems with adequate funds so schools
don't become reliant on junk-food companies," she urges.

Jacobson says that commercials for high-caffeine products, such as
Coca-Cola Company's Surge, appeal to teens who are looking for legal
stimulant drugs.