Health bodies fight Coca-Cola Christmas truck small town tour

A number of health bodies have joined forces in an attempt to end the journey of Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck.

The collaboration, led by Parents’ Voice, believes the Christmas truck tour – currently underway in partnership with The Salvation Army to deliver ‘surprise and delight’ moments to regional towns – is a technique to disguise Coca-Cola’s marketing techniques and target children.

The tour has received opposition since it began in November.

“The truck is essentially a giant mobile billboard marketing unhealthy products to vulnerable communities,” says Parents’ Voice campaigns manager Alice Pryor. An open letter expresses disappointment in the Truck’s visit to Tamworth. The New South Wales city has high levels of overweight and obese people, with 73.9% of its adults either overweight or obese.

“Coke is a harmful product packed with sugar,” says Pryor.”With one-in-four Australian kids overweight or obese, it’s hard to comprehend they’re deliberately targeting children in this at-risk community.”

The body of health organisations is made up of The Australian Dental Association, Australian Health Promotion Association, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, LiveLighter WA, Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Association, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Public Health Association of Australia, SugarByHalf, Sugar Free Smiles, Parents’ Voice, YMCA Victoria and members of the Food Governance Node at the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

“The truck’s route raises further suspicion about Coke’s motivations,” says Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore. “Townsville’s kids are the heaviest in Queensland, with 21.4% overweight and 9.3% obese.

“There is no justification for Coke’s presence in such a susceptible community grappling with obesity,” he says.

According to the Coca-Cola and The Salvation Army partnership, the locations for the Truck’s visits – along with the gifts and events most needed for each region – were decided upon with involvement from The Salvation Army.

While it is already underway, the group of health bodies still hope to put it to an end – particularly before it reaches its final destination: Sydney’s Carols in the Domain on 17 December.

“Although we wish the truck had never toured, we now request that its journey ends before its planned conclusion at Sydney’s Carols in the Domain,” says Pryor. “Parents are angry that despite Coca-Cola stating it doesn’t market to kids under 12, it is now a major sponsor of Carols in the Domain,” she says of the family event.

Ben Ice
BY Ben Ice ON 13 December 2017