Don't Donate Coke, Dieticians Urge

Atid: Poor are fatter, last thing they need is empty calories and sugar.

The Israeli Dietetic Association, which represents dieticians and nutritionists in Israel, opposes a proposed settlement of a class action suit reached last week over a foul odor in a line of soft drinks produced in November 2009 by the Central Bottling Company, better known as Coca-Cola Israel.

The odor in Coca-Cola, and in Diet Coca-Cola, Diet Sprite and Kinley was apparently due to tiny amounts of a substance supplied to the bottler.

The settlement, wihch remains contingent on court approval, would require Coca-Cola to donate NIS 1.8 million in products to the needy through the Latet non-profit organization. But not all think that's a good idea.

In a letter to the Central Bottling Company sent Monday, the Israel Dietetic Association Atid, protested. "Bottles of Coca-Cola loaded with sugar and devoid of any nutritional value, 'empty calories,' will be distributed to, of all groups, needy populations in Israel," Atid wrote. "Such a huge donation precisely to lower socioeconomic populations, which are known to suffer more from obesity and nutritional insecurity is completely wrong. In addition, there is a low awareness of healthy and balanced nutrition and limited financial access to healthy food products among these groups."

For its part, Coca-Cola Israel said the range of its product line includes diet products and this will also be reflected in the donation of beverages agreed upon.

Atid provided a Health Ministry survey supporting its contention, showing that 34% of women living in poverty are overweight and 37% are obese. Among men living in poverty, 43% are overweight and 24% obese. The incidence of the problem was much lower among wealthier population groups.