On CNBC's Closing Bell yesterday, I squared off against Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest to debate his group's latest anti-soda gimmick: A polar bear video mocking Coca-Cola's ad campaign.
The notion of such an ad is perfectly legitimate, in that it is privately funded by CSPI donors. They can make whatever arguments they want, and the personal choice theme is a good one. But that is the only legitimate part about the ad. It is more like a game of Where's Waldo: Can you find the distortions hiding in the cartoon?
Some think the ad campaign is justified because it doesn't call for government regulation. But I can't help but look at it in the overall context of CSPI's campaign in favor of bans, taxes, and other interventions.
Perhaps, the fact that it is a cartoon with bears gives them some license to use chainsaws for amputations, but very few people who drink some full sugar soda as part of an overall balanced diet have their legs amputated, chainsaw or not.
The food police have become hyper-focused on soda. They admit they are focused on excessive consumption of soda, although it seems increasingly clear that to many of them, any consumption of soda is excessive.
If this were about public health, not a campaign against soda, the conversation would be about overall diet, and would focus on excessive consumption, as well as exercise.