Opinion: Coca-Cola and AAFP Partnership
I’m addicted to Diet Coke. I gave it up while pregnant, but begged my husband to fetch me a can from the hospital cafeteria as soon as I popped that baby out.
photo copyright Amy Gunty
Now that I’m trying to teach our three children how to eat healthy, local food, I’ve banned it from our home. Because how will my message resonate if they see me guzzling Diet Coke? And that was why I was disappointed to read that the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) announced a new partnership with Coca-Cola.
I know: together they’ll develop educational materials “to teach consumers how to make the right choices and incorporate the products they love into a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.” But working on those materials together is like talking about a person while he or she is in the room: you can be honest, but diplomatic — and that means it’s up to your listener to read between the lines. It’s a slippery slope to be on, and the stakes are high. Our children are the first generation in modern history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents, in part due to unhealthy food choices.
I still drink Diet Coke at restaurants or friends’ houses. And occasionally we’ll let our children sip on a can of pop at a party or on a camping trip. But our home is where we teach. Our children learn from us. We teach what is nutritious and what isn’t; what is food and what isn’t. Want a flavored beverage? Cut up some lemons, lime or cucumber and put it in your water.
As our children become more removed from their food sources, they need to be taught the difference between what is real food and what are “products”. Because they don’t know and frankly, few of us do.
It is from our pediatricians that we learn. We trust they will do what is in our children’s best interest. But can you trust an organization that is influenced by a corporation?
The role of the AAFP shouldn’t be to teach our children how to include “products” as part of their lifestyle; they’ve got vending machines in their schools that can do that. What the AAFP should teach is what to drink instead of a sugary beverage to fuel your body. And how can they do that with Coca Cola looking over their shoulder?
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