RONNIE CUMMINS AND KATHERINE PAUL
The soft drink giant claims the artificial sweetener used in Diet Coke is healthier than sugar. It's a blatant lie.
It was laughable when Coca-Cola launched a campaign to fight obesity. And even more laughable when the king of soda’s anti-obesity campaign shifted all the blame for those extra pounds to lack of exercise and chairs (yes, chairs).
But now, the company that donated $1.7 million to defeat last year’s GMO labeling initiative in California has gone from laughable to dangerous. In the wake of declining sales of its Diet Coke brand, Coke has rolled out an ad campaign carefully and deceptively crafted to convince consumers that aspartame, the artificial sweetener (whose patent was at one time owned by Monsanto) in Diet Coke, is a “healthy alternative” to sugar.
The new campaign, being tested in the Atlanta and Chicago markets, takes the form of full-page advertisements disguised as public service announcements. The message? Don’t believe all that bad stuff you’ve heard about aspartame. Aspartame is perfectly safe. It’s better for you than sugar. Drinking Diet Coke will help you stay thin and healthy.
It’s a sweet story, concocted by the marketing wizards at Coke who are desperate to keep the diet soda money train rolling. But it’s not true. Multiple studies, including one published in 2010 by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, have concluded just the opposite. Aspartame, they say, actually contributes to weight gain by stimulating your appetite. Other studies have revealed that aspartame increases carbohydrate cravings and stimulates fat storage and weight gain.