Coca-Cola Tries to “Get the Target Off Our Backs” by Persuading the Public That Diet Coke and Other “No-Calorie” Drinks Are Healthy and More Clever Marketing Tactics

Coca-Cola is getting into some very clever, if not misguided marketing tactics to somehow convince John Q. American Public that there’s a place in the diet for both empty-calorie, sugary soft drinks and/or chemical-laden "diet drinks."

Not only that, but Coke is "on a mission" to tack on the phrase "health and wellness" onto Diet Coke and other "no-calorie" drinks. You can learn about these marketing ploys, thanks to Duane D. Stanford of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who was in Scottsdale, Arizona recently, where he attended the annual conference of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York.

Mind you, I wasn’t in Scottsdale myself, but journalist Stanford heard Coke CEO Neville Isdell share insights into the soft drink company’s marketing approaches to offset flat sales of its carbonated soft drinks.

For instance, in his astute article, entitled "Coke tries to shift obesity focus off its drinks," Stanford reportsof the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Isdell announced plans to broaden the debate over the obesity epidemic so Coke can "get the target off our backs."

What?

Yes, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Duane Stanford, Isdell branded millions of us who are health-minded as "targets"! And he wants us to quit revealing the truth about Coke’s products, including seemingly innocent ones named "Coke Zero" or "Diet Coke Plus."

Reportedly, one way Coke plans to "get the target off our backs" is to use different terminology for diet drinks. Indeed, rather than rightly referring to them as "carbonated soft drinks," Coke wants us to name them "sparkling beverages." Hmm. Sounds a bit deceptive to me.

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Live in the Northeast? Become a Savvy Sugar Sleuth With Me Tuesday Morning When I’m On TV in Philadelphia (CN8)

Live in the Northeast? Wanna learn how not to get duped by those often misleading food labels? And have some fun laughing at Connie, the "Ex-Sugar Shrew"-turned-"Sugar Sleuth"?

Art_connie_medWatch me on the "Your Morning" show on CN8, The Comcast Network, when anchor and managing editor Connie Colla interviews me out of Philadelphia at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow (Tues., Feb. 6) about foods with hidden sugars. (Cool, I get to chat with another Connie!)

Tune in to get helpful, juicy pointers so you can choose foods that don’t contain all those unnecessary sweeteners.

Don’t fret if you don’t live in Philly. As the CN8 website explains, this network has a tremendous reach.

In fact, more than 9 million Comcast cable homes in 12 states and 20 TV markets from Maine to Virginia to Washington, D.C., will be able to to catch my interview tomorrow.

CN8, as its website explains, offers "a unique brand of live, interactive television delivered over its own fiber-optic network."

To clarify, you’ll be able to watch me on CN8 Tuesday morning in any of the following areas:

  • Albany
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Burlington
  • Charlottesville
  • Hartford-New Haven
  • Harrisburg
  • Harrisonburg
  • Johnston-Altoona
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Providence
  • Richmond
  • Roanoke-Lynchburg
  • Salisbury
  • Springfield
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wilkes Barre-Scranton

We’re sure to have an eye-opening segment…

But I’ll give you a little hint now though…. Why avoid all these hidden sugars? Well, all those sweeteners can really add up when you’re unknowingly consuming them all day long, all week long, and all month long.

Indeed, excess sugars you’re unwittingly taking into your wonderful body can lead to a whole host of problems. (I reveal the shocking scooop about sugar in my new book SUGAR SHOCK! from Berkley Books.)

You’ll see me talk about buying:

  • Yogurt
  • Cereals
  • Crackers
  • Marinara sauce
  • Salad dressings
  • Peanut Butter
  • Energy or snack bars
  • And a surprise or two

After my TV appearance on CN8, I invite you to join in the discussion here. And, if you’d like some shopping help, you’ll be able to get my Sugar-Free Shopper’s Guide, too.

Bear in mind that we only have a few minutes for my interview, but you can get all kinds of helpful info on deciphering those food labels and in dispelling food-label misconceptions in my new book SUGAR SHOCK!, which is available at bookstores and online retailers nationwide.

SUBJECT: Get the Shocking Scoop About Sugar, Gain Energy & More — Act today, Wed., Jan. 17, to Feel Better and Get Exciting Gifts

My Special Invitation to You: Act on Wed., Jan. 17 to feel better and get exciting gifts.

Dear Friends, Blog Readers, Colleagues and All of You Kind Enough to Pop By:

I’m thrilled, because some really wonderful, cutting-edge experts, whom I greatly admire — including Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Jonny Bowden, Dr. Fred Pescatore, and Dr. Liz Lipski — are kind enough to send out special e-mails to their fans on (or before) Wed., Jan. 17, inviting them to purchase my book, SUGAR SHOCK!

These healthy heroes of mine — plus dozens of other wonderful authors and experts in a variety of fields — are sharing the fact that I accidentally discovered a wow of a secret that could boost your moods and bring you good health, too.

They’re telling their followers about how after my years of needlessly suffering, I discovered one simple change that banished all 44 of my mysterious ailments. As I now happily reveal: My mood swings disappeared. My severe fatigue vanished. My horrible headaches took a hike.

Why? Because I cut out sugar. That’s right: I kicked my sugar habit.

And, as my friend Dr. Jonny Bowden — a hotshot, savvy nutritionist — points out in his letter to his followers: "If you (or your doctor) still thinks there’s no such thing as carbohydrate addiction, then you definitely want to read this book."

These absolutely wonderful supporters also point out that my book SUGAR SHOCK! (Berkley Books) dishes the sour scoop about sweets.

For instance, Jonny kindly observed: "Connie really did her homework. She’s interviewed some of the top experts in the field and put together a really compelling, personal story that you need to hear."

My friends and supportive colleagues also point out that SUGAR SHOCK! tells the full sugar story. What’s more, they tell their fans, my book "gives you hope and valuable tips so that you, too, can break free, boost your moods, get more energy, and more."

Anyhow, my friends are encouraging those subscribers to their e-mail lists to act on Wed., Jan. 17 (until 11:59 p.m.) to participate in this exciting offer and get a tremendous amount of free gifts from leading experts in the field, including Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Fred Pescatore, Dr. Joe Mercola, and many others.

As I’ve gratefully pointed out previously, SUGAR SHOCK! — which has a foreword from bestselling author Dr. Nicholas Perricone — has received praise from a Who’s Who of cutting-edge doctors and nutritionists, including medical consultant Dr. Stephen Sinatra.

Just check out what three experts said:

* Frequent Oprah guest Dr. Mehmet Oz, coauthor of the # 1 bestseller, YOU: On A Diet:

"[SUGAR SHOCK!] spills the beans on the shocking impact of simple carbohydrates on aging and
quality of life…"

* Renowned expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, founder of the wildly popular Mercola.com:

"If you can’t say `no’ to foods made with sugar or processed, white flour, then you will want to read Connie Bennett’s SUGAR SHOCK! …it is loaded with many practical tools and resources…"

* Dr. Mark Hyman, author of the New York Times bestseller, UltraMetabolism:

"Read this book. It could save your life."

So, I invite you, too, to join the fun. Follow these experts’ advice.

Order SUGAR SHOCK! anytime on Wed., Jan. 17, to get the scoop on sugar AND get exciting, special gifts from many authors and health experts.

Just check out the amazing gifts you get — worth more than $1,377 — just when you purchase my $10 book. Just visit http://SugarBookPromo.com now.

Warmly,

Connie

P.S. Look: I really like to think that this one book could make a huge difference in your life. You see, I wrote the kind of book that I would have loved to have back in 1998 when I had to kick sugar on doctor’s orders.

P.P.S. Get more energy, improved concentration, and better health now. You deserve to feel the best you can feel! Just visit http://SugarBookPromo.com now and then grab your copy of SUGAR SHOCK! today while you can still claim the dozens of valuable gifts.

P.P.P.S. Now share this empowering book this with a friend or loved one, too. Imagine how great you’ll feel when your loved one raves about all the benefits she or he received! The rewards you get from sharing this book SUGAR SHOCK! can be greater than the great deal you get on this book.

Again, I invite you to act Wed., Jan. 17, by going to http://SugarBookPromo.com

The Package Claims It’s “Healthy,” But Is It? New England Grocery Chain Unmasks Food Labels For Processed Foods and More

Read this fascinating New York Times story from reporter Andrew Martin about how the New England chain of Hannaford Brothers rated the nutritional value of nearly all the foods and drinks at its stores using its new "Guiding Stars" system.

Surprise, surprise: Of the 27,000 foods reviewed, a whopping 77 percent received no stars, meaning these foods aren’t healthy — despite claims on the package indicating otherwsie.

Not surprisingly, this "0" ranking goes to many, if not most, of the processed foods that bill themselves as good for you.

As Times reporter Martin observes, the "0" ranking includes:

  • V8 vegetable juice (too much sodium)
  • Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato soup (ditto)
  • Most Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners (ditto)
  • Nearly all yogurt with fruit (too much sugar).
  • Whole milk? Too much fat — no stars.

Fruits and veggies get the thumbs up with three stars, as did salmon and Post Grape-Nuts cereal. (Don’t quite agree with the latter ranking, though.)

Hurrah for this grocery store chain for instituting such a program. Wouldn’t it be nice if this caught on all around the nation?

Poor unsuspecting consumers definitely need help to make sense of those food labels, because many nutrition claims are basically full of bunk.

Indeed, as The Times points out, it’s tough for unsophisticated shoppers to figure out if a product is superior or inferior, especially when a package trumpets certain virtues of a product (example, high fiber) but then ignores the negatives (high sugar or high sodium).

Incidentally, my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK! includes a chapter that "outs" some common label misconceptions relating to sugars.

Clearly, I’m big on educating people to discern the truth when it comes to nutrition claims on food labels.

Why Does Water Need to Be “Wild” and Sugary For Kids To Drink It?

What’s the matter with plain water? Why do kids need to have sugary, flavored water with snazzy sounding names?

Well, according to Brad Barnhorn and Chris Testa, kids find water boring, even if contains "predictable marketing gimmicks like cartoon characters on the labels."

Kids are so ho-hum about water that Barnhorn and Testa launched their own flavored Wild Waters drinks that are allegedly "60 to 70 percent less sugar and calories than the leading sugary juices and soft drinks and free of any controversial artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup." (Well, that’s certainly better than most drinks out there.)

Oh, and the beverages are reportedly loaded with "specific nutrients identified by the USDA as lacking in children’s diets." (Well, in theory that’s really nice, but experts told me that sweets actually deplete you of important nutrients. So is that a complete wash?)

Suffice it to say that I’m just not impressed. The colorful drinks still have sugar in them. Yeah, maybe 60 to 70 percent less sugar, but ingesting sweeteners still can cause problems for you, as I’ve been learning for the last five years while working on my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!

Also, what irks me is that after scouting all around the Wild Waters website, I couldn’t find any nutritional information. So just how much sugar are we talking is in each bottle? What other ingredients does this new fangled, brightly colored water contain? Am I going to have to go to the grocery store and find out myself? Is

Is nutritional info offered for the drinks, but I’m geographically challenged on the Internet? If you can find the labelt, please let me know.

(Interestingly though, the Wild Waters website contains a link to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Information Center and another to one about nutrition labels from the Baylor College of Medicine.)

One more thing. I just don’t buy into this company’s marketing claim that "Kids want flavor and a brand of their own, not just a shrunken version of their parents’ drink." Oh, give me a break.

Kids just don’t need extra calories and sugar, especially in drinks that purport to be healthy. We just need to teach our kids to appreciate thirst-quenching water. Besides, you can always dress water up with a dash of lemon, lime or even a splash of flavor squeezed from an orange or grapefruit. There are a whole bunch of things you can do with water to give it an extra burst, if that’s what kids absolutely have to have, and it doesn’t involve adding sugar or other chemicals.

Coca-Cola Co. Sued As Part of Effort to Force Soft Drink Makers to Eliminate Ingredients That Can Form Cancer-Causing Benzene

For those of you behind on the news, sugar isn’t the only ingredient that makes soda dangerous these days. There’s a new concern percolating bigtime, and it’s called benzene. And this substance — as you can learn here — can be quite dangerous. In fact, benzene is linked to leukemia and other forms of cancer. 

In the latest round, Coca-Cola Co. was sued today as part of an effort to force soft drink makers to get rid of ingredients in their drinks that can form this cancer-causing benzene, the AP’s prolific writer Libby Quaid reported.

Interestingly, the action against soft drink giant Coke comes as two smaller companies settled a lawsuit over benzene, which can form in soft drinks containing vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid), and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. In fact, scientists heat or light exposure or other factors can actually trigger a reaction that forms benzene in beverages.

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Forward-Thinking Researcher Suggests That Sugar-Filled “Poisoned” Food Supply May to Blame for Obesity

If you’ve among the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese, read this first before blaming yourself for being short on self-control when it comes to those tempting, refined carbs that entice you just about everywhere you go.

Instead, our heavily processed, "poisoned," sugar-loaded food supply may be altering your biochemistry and driving you to eat more and more–and making you less inclined to get off your butt and exercise.

So hypothesizes nationally renowned obesity expert Robert Lustig, M.D,, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, in the most recent issue of Art_robert_lustig_md_1721 Nature Cliinical Practice: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Folks, this is really big news for those of you who’ve been having challenges saying no to all those sugar-filled, highly refined carbs that you’ve been consuming — like crackers, cookies, yogurt, and white bread.

Basically, Dr. Lustig believes that eating large amounts of sugar makes your body produce more insulin, which, in turn, blocks vital hormones that should normally tell your brain to stop eating.

What’s more, he theorizes, all that excess sugar makes your brain switch into starvation response mode. That then triggers more eating and activates lethargy (you know, the post-sugar "blahs") so that you can conserve energy. And then those extra unused calories are stored as fat. .

According to Dr. Lustig’s hypothesis, "sugar in large quantities drives up insulin secretion," reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In one of the more fascinating, well-researched articles I’ve seen recently about this subject — and I’ve seen probably thousands while working on my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!Chronicle staff reporter Erin Allday explains:

"This insulin floods the brain, and in particular the hypothalamus, which regulates energy use in the body. As a result, leptin, a hormone that tells the brain when the body needs more or less energy, can’t get its signal to the hypothalamus because the insulin is blocking the way."

Allday continues:

"The result is that the body is thrown into starvation mode — the brain thinks it isn’t getting enough energy, so it needs more calories and it needs to save energy, he said. People end up feeling the symptoms of starvation, including malaise, depression, a lack of motivation and, of course, hunger."

Sound familiar? And guess what — all those tempting, culprit carbs sold by major corporations could be what’s driving your poor body into confusion and obesity. That’s right.

"It’s because of the toxic environment that the insulin rises and the problem behavior ensues," Dr. Lustig told Allday.

"That’s why all of these diet programs don’t work. That’s why telling people to diet and exercise alone won’t work, unless you improve the toxic environment as well."

Dr. Lustig contends that it’s vital to break the pattern of sugar consumption, one that he compares to nicotine addiction. (Hurrah, Dr. Lustig! You’re so onto something here! In fact, you just have to read my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!, because I discuss some of these same things.)

Folks, I can’t tell you how exciting this is to have a cutting-edge pediatric endocrinologist putting forth these fascinating theories. (As you can see, Dr. Lustig’s training is impressive and includes a bachelor’s degree is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a medical degree is from Cornell University Medical College, a pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and and a clinical fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at UCSF.)

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Sugary Beverages Are Packing On The Pounds, New Scientific Review Finds

For the past four decades, Americans have been gulping or guzzling their way to weight gain by choosing sugar-sweetened beverages, concludes an important scientific review published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Specifically, one extra can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds in a year, and the "weight of evidence" strongly suggests that this habit is a key reason that more Americans have been becoming overweight or obese, found the researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.

"We tried to look at the big picture rather than individual studies," and it clearly justifies public health efforts to limit sugar-sweetened beverages, said Dr. Frank Hu, head researcher for the new report, which also found that almost one-third of all carbohydrate calories in the American diet come from added sweeteners, with drinks accounting for half of this amount.

Well, we’ve certainly heard before from other studies that soda can pack on the pounds, but this new report from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health seems unparalleled in scope and depth.

First off, it reviewed 40 years of nutrition studies, which were selected on the basis of their scientific merit and relevance. Furthermore, the review was funded both by the federal government and the American Heart Association.

As can be expected, the American Beverage Assocation — which used to be more appropriately called the National Soft Drink Association — had a rebuttal prepared. 

"Blaming one specific product or ingredient as the root cause of obesity defies common sense," said a statement from the ABA’s senior science consultant Richard Adamson. "Instead, there are many contributing factors, including regular physical activity."

Not to sound undignified, but phoeey!

Drinking soda and other sugary drinks in abundance — especially since they contain high fructose corn syrup (which studies show is processed differently in our bodies) — can lead to weight gain.

All we have to do is look at the obvious facts, which is what this landmark review did.

Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, told AP that blaming other factors for obesity misses the point.

"Could you imagine somebody saying we should ignore the contribution of hypertension to heart attack because there are many causes? It’s ludicrous. Yet this argument resurfaces with regard to obesity," Ludwig told reporters.

When it comes to beverage trends and obesity, "it’s like documenting the force of gravity," he said. "There’s an overwhelmingly strong case to be made for a causal relationship."

Thank you, Dr. Ludwig and Dr. Hu, for stating the case so succinctly.

Maybe people will listen more to experts’ warnings. Let’s face it, sugary soda and other high-fructose-laden-drinks add NO nutritive value to people’s diets. So what’s the point of drinking them if doing so means you’ll gain weight and possibly develop other health problems?

Need help kicking sweets? Join my free, online KickSugar support group, which, at present has 1500-plus members from around the world.

Thanks to MSNBC and CNN for help on this story.

Gifted British Children Want to Decide What Foods They Eat

I’m always intrigued when reading about health and nutrition news from Great Britain for a number of reasons. First off, the country has many cutting-edge researchers over there (some of whom I interviewed for my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!). Secondly, in many ways, we Americans can learn so much from them, especially when it comes to their more consumer-friendly, common-sense rules and guidelines regarding TV advertising and food.

But this latest bit of news from the BCC entertains me. A new survey of gifted British kids reveals that these youngstgers believe they’re smart enough to decide what they want to eat rather than have their food choices dictated to them.

In fact, 68.7 percent of children polled (770 kids in all the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth) felt that they should be responsible for what they put in their mouths.

What’s more, the BBC tells us, these young ones say that "they would choose healthy options over junk food."

The timing of the poll is interesting. "The findings come as the government is setting its nutritional guidelines for school meals in England," the BBC explains.

But bear in mind, as I reported here earlier, Great Britain has a wonderful anti-junk-food champion over there — young, hip TV chef "Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver — who’s thrown his weight behind a campaign to change food in schools and to use more fresh ingredients.

Cool American celebrities, are you listening? You could do so much good if you emulated Oliver even in a small way!

Food Labels May Be Misleading & Inaccurate — Despite FDA Inspections

Whenever I delve deeper into the world of food labels, I become more frustrated and more determined to buy wholesome foods — as close to their natural state as possible. Now, here’s yet another reason to steer clear of bottled, canned, and packaged foods. 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest — which has done some wonderful watchdog work to crack down on deceptive food labeling — claims that a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report to get rid of inaccurate information and misleading health claims on food labels is itself misleading itself.

"The FDA report implies that agency inspectors checked more than 28,000 food labels for inaccurate nutrition information within a recent 14 month period when in reality, the inspectors merely checked to see whether a Nutrition Facts panel was present on the label, not whether it was accurate," the CSPI charged, in a press release on its website.

Just check out the CSPI’s confidence-cutting claims about the FDA, which is supposed to be protecting us.

"The FDA’s report to Congress demonstrates that the specific issues of concern to the Committee—the accuracy of Nutrition Facts labels and misleading health-related claims that make it difficult for Americans to comply with federal dietary advice–have been the casualty of not only budget cuts, but a lack of commitment on the part of the Agency to fulfill its mission," wrote CSPI legal director Bruce Silverglade to the Congressional committees responsible for FDA appropriations.

"The FDA should be cracking down on claims for bogus ‘whole wheat’ products, deceptive ‘0 trans fat’ claims, inaccurate ‘Nutrition Facts’ labels, and misleading statements like ‘made with real fruit’ (when the product contains only fruit flavors), not just eyeballing labels to make sure that information is printed in the required format."

The CSPI is absolutely right here! Indeed, I’ve looked into these claims while working on my upcoming book, SUGAR SHOCK!, and I’m scandalized by some of the misleading label claims in this area.

More to the point, CSPI senior staff attorney Ilene Ringel Heller blamed the FDA for its "abdication of its responsibility to ensure honest food labeling by touting irrelevant statistics concerning routine Agency inspection activities. The FDA has been less than forthright with Congress."

Hurrah to the CSPI for its five recommendations, urging the FDA to:

  • "systematically test the accuracy of Nutrition Facts labels";
  • "give labeling enforcement higher priority during inspections of manufacturing facilities and distribution facilities," and
  • "increase funding to the FDA division responsible for food labeling."

Thanks to Mercola.com for the lead to this news story, which received the lead from FoodIngredientsFirst.com.

Again, as I said before, you’re safest when you buy foods that just aren’t packaged — you know, veggies, fruits, organic meats, etc. — therefore, you won’t fall into the labels trap.