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Dale Wannen headshot

Coca-Cola Sued Over Sugar-Laden vitaminwater

By Dale Wannen

My daily ritual of drinking a glass of orange juice was something that was passed down from my parents.  However, with Lebron James and Ellen DeGeneres pushing these vitamin and energy infused bottles of goodness, it seemed like the newest generation was shifting this morning ritual to vitaminwater.  After all, using the word "vitamin" in front of the name surely implies that there is some nutritional or healthy value. It must be good for you, right? Wrong!  These drinks hold about as much nutrition as that piece of lint in your pocket.

In retaliation for this misinformation, the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest, is suing Coca-Cola (Coke bought vitaminwater for over $4 billion in 2007) on the grounds that vitaminwater labels and advertising are filled with “deceptive and unsubstantiated health claims.”  vitaminwater contains about 33 grams of sugar, while Two Hostess Ding Dong cake snacks have about 36 grams of sugar. Instead of taking the silent plea here, Coke attorneys are defending the lawsuit by stating that "no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitamin water was a healthy beverage." What!?

About 35 percent of Americans are now considered medically obese. In 1990, the obesity average was only 12 percent. Today, two-thirds of Americans are overweight.  When faced with the decision to buy vitaminwater or the can of Coke right next to it, people are proactively making the conscious decision. How many drinkers out there know they are consuming more calories and sugar in vitaminwater than in a 12 ounce serving of Coke (12 oz of coke equates 110 calories and 30 grams of sugar)? I would lean towards the “not many” category.

Now Coke will have to take the witness stand and defend themselves in court by acknowledging that vitaminwater is not a healthy product.  Considering, at one point, the marketing slogan was to “keep you healthy as a horse” and will supply you with a “healthy state of physical and mental well-being,” Coke will have a lot of explaining to do. Next time you purchase the newest craze of Vitamin Salad or Vitamin Coffee, be sure to think twice about how nutritious it really is.

Dale Wannen headshot

Dale is the founder and advisor of Sustainvest Asset Management LLC. He has over 20 years experience in wealth management and financial services with a distinct commitment to sustainable investing for 15 of those years. Prior to Sustainvest, Dale was a portfolio manager specializing in ESG investment strategies and shareholder advocacy. After growing up in southern New Jersey, Dale decided to head west in 2002 and now makes the bay area his home.  He has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco and a B.A. in Economics from Rowan University and currently is a volunteer with Mentor Me Petaluma and the founder of Green Drinks Petaluma. He also currently sits as a Board of Director of nonprofit Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and is a investment committee member of the Sonoma County Community Foundation.

Read more stories by Dale Wannen