Baylen Linnekin on Letting Individuals Take Responsibility for Their Own Food Choices


A controversial online video released this week by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, The Real Bears, is making waves for the way it portrays what the group says are the health risks of sweetened beverages like soda. The video, an obvious parody of a series of well-known Coca-Cola ads, features polar bears that grow more obese as they consume soda after soda. As the video progresses, they lose teeth, suffer from impotence, and fall victim to diabetes (which necessitates a leg amputation by chainsaw).

Coca-Cola, for one, is not pleased. "This is irresponsible and grandstanding and will not help anyone understand energy balance," says Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan Stribling in a USA Today piece on the video. "It also distorts the facts while we and our industry partners are working with government and civil society on real solutions." But as Baylen Linnekin of Keep Food Legal explains, despite the backlash, the video is actually very attractive for several reasons. Most important, through words and visuals, the video argues that individuals have both the power and responsibility to make changes to their own diets and to those of their families.