New Coca-Cola anti-obesity ads draw criticism

It's a fizzy pleasure sold in restaurants, stores and vending machines. And with slogans like "Pure as Sunlight" from 1927, to 1979's "Have a Coke and a Smile," or more recently, "Open Happiness," it isn't exactly known for it's healthy image. But now, with the National Institute of Health reporting two-thirds of American adults as overweight or obese, the world's largest beverage company is calling this problem "the issue of this generation" -- and getting involved.

For the first time, Coca-Cola is launching a series of ads focusing on its past of providing drinks with fewer, or "zero" calories, and more "diet" options. But many health professionals say despite its fewer calories, it's still soda.

"What happens when your insulin spikes, is it's going to drop... and your body is going to be hungry." said Certified Personal Trainer at the Grand Traverse Athletic Club. "So people that drink Coke (regular or diet) eat more than they normally would."

Coca-Cola says it is simply addressing the obesity issue, not reacting to any public opinions. Even though some of those public opinions are loud and clear.

"I think pop is bad," said Valerie Hays-Schaub, a Traverse City resident. "There's nothing good about it. It's a guilty pleasure and I do drink pop once in awhile."

"There's nothing really good in it," said Cheryl Send, a mother from Suttons Bay. "There's no juice in it, no vitamins in it. It really doesn't hydrate you like water can."

Coca-cola has made attempts to combat opinions like these by placing the number of calories on the side of each can, but Personal Trainer Ryan Heary says that's not enough... Especially when it comes to kids.

"Kids from 9 to 12 drink 3-4 sodas a day (on average), so that amounts to about 15 teaspoons of sugar a day," said Heary. "That's way above the norm, and It's going to effect them. They could be obese, they could get diabetes, they could have bad teeth."

Despite efforts to sell more water and juice products, Coca-Cola reports diet sodas account for nearly a third of its U.S. Sales... So, are these ads misleading?

"They're misleading for a reason: because they want to try and target the people that are on a â??diet,â??" said Heary. "Just because it's diet, doesn't mean it's for a diet."

To view the first two-minute ad, click here.