The Checkup: Don’t Blame Soda for Obesity, Says Coke CEO

The soft-drink maker says blaming one industry or product is "incorrect and unjust."

• Talk about timing. The Wall Street Journal published an interview with Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent late last night that the internet is buzzing about this morning. Lots of outlets recapping the interview are casting it as reactionary to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban, which would outlaw sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. But when you check out the original interview in full, you learn that the interview was actually conducted a few days before Bloomberg announced his plan—which means someone at the Wall Street Journal must be able to see the future. The interviewer asks one relevant question to the issue at hand: soda’s role in the U.S. obesity epidemic, to which Kent gives his lengthiest answer in the entire conversation. I can almost see steam coming out of his ears. His answer, in part, below (read the full interview here):

“This is an important complicated societal issue that we all have to work together to provide a solution. …It is, I believe, incorrect and unjust to put the blame on any single ingredient, any single product, any single category of food.”

Interestingly, it’s also worth noting that Kent wrote a missive in the Journal a few years back, arguing that soda calories aren’t the problem with obesity—it’s the fact that many Americans are sedentary. He said a soda tax (and, presumably, any other kind of regulation, a la Bloomberg’s proposal) is illogical and regressive.

• Pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek has come out with a line of heat-and-serve burritos that news outlets are not-so-quietly chuckling about this morning. Why? Because the burritos are very obviously stoner food—who else would eat a cheeseburger or pizza burrito in their right minds?

• A family in South Africa is hoping a pioneering skin-cloning procedure can help their three-year-old daughter recover from an accident, which burned 80 percent of her body. CNN has more.