If you think about healthy habits, drinking a soda most likely doesn’t make the cut, but Coca-Cola is trying to flip that notion upside down.
In its latest online video, the beverage giant aims to show consumers how much fun it could be to burn off the 140 calories in a can of soda. The ad notes that it typically takes 23 minutes to work off the calories, and shows a montage of happy people on a stationary bike trying to ‘earn’ a can of Coke.
“Twenty-three minutes of exercise is a lot of work for an unhealthy treat! This just looks like clever marketing to me – it’s not good health advice,” says Masha Fox-Rabinovich, outpatient dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Washington Adventist Hospital. “It’s saying to exercise so you can enjoy a soda. Instead, I’d suggest limit the soda and exercise anyway.”
The video comes as soft drinks face growing criticism from health advocates who say the sugar-laden beverages play a central role in perpetuating the obesity crisis in America. Numerous cities have tried to impose special taxes on sugary drinks, although none have succeeded.
The associated press reports the video is unusual because it so frankly addresses how many calories are in its drink. But it also takes a frequent criticism used by health advocates and spins it in a happy light.
“In addition to the money you’re paying for the soda, Coke will hold 23 minutes of your life ransom,” says Randall Smith, executive chef at Adventist HealthCare. “Twenty ounces of water takes zero minutes to burn off and you can have just as much fun.”
“There’s really no health benefits to soda and lots of benefits to physical activity,” says Fox-Rabinovich. “It’s much better to choose water instead and to consider the exercise as part of a daily routine that helps to balance caloric intake for all the foods eaten in a day– which add up to much more than 140 calories.”