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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

Preventing obesity: All hands on deck

By - Jul 1 2015

hands on deck
At the Inter-American Development Bank, we believe that working together is working smarter. That’s why we see great value in collaborating across industries, sectors, and fields of expertise when confronting development obstacles in all areas—be it energy, infrastructure, education, or rising levels of obesity. There are many important voices and actors in the global effort to promote healthy lifestyles and balanced nutrition. Today we’ve invited Dr. llton Azevedo, Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at our valued partner, Coca-Cola Latin America, to share his perspective.

We all agree that obesity is one of the world’s most critical public health issues. Addressing the obesity challenge will require comprehensive efforts working across all sectors in the community, including businesses, government and civil society.  While there may be different views, it is clear we must come together – and work together – to find meaningful solutions to this complex issue.

Unfortunately, there is no single or simple solution. Singling out one particular industry, and one type of product (like sugar sweetened beverages) instead of finding comprehensive solutions to the complex issue of obesity does nothing to educate the public about the multiple causes of obesity. This is why we support a more robust and balanced approach – with focus on multiple efforts to achieve healthier diets and lifestyles –to impact public health positively.

There is widespread consensus that weight gain is primarily the result of an imbalance of energy, specifically too many calories consumed versus expended. The World Health Organization states, “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended,” due to a global increased intake of energy-dense foods and an increase in physical inactivity. Therefore, the key to successful weight management is ensuring that calories taken in are balanced by calories burned through movement and physical activity.

Solving this complex problem requires the collective efforts of many and The Coca-Cola Company is committed to doing our part.  In 2013 we announced four global commitments to bring people together to help find workable solutions to address obesity.

  • Offer low or no-calorie beverage options in every market, so consumers can choose what beverage is right for their diet and lifestyle
  • Provide transparent nutrition information, featuring calories on the front of all of our packages, so consumers clearly and easily understand how many calories are in our beverages
  • Help get people moving by supporting physical activity programs in every country where we do business to assist communities to reintegrate physical activity into their lives.
  • Market responsibly, including no advertising to children under 12 anywhere in the world, to address the concerns of parents who want to be the decision-makers regarding the foods and beverages their children consume.

Along with Coca-Cola, The Coca-Cola Company’s flagship product, our portfolio encompasses a broad range of regular, low and no-calorie beverage categories, including still and sparkling waters, juices and juice drinks, sports drinks, ready-to-drink teas, coffees and dairy products.  We currently offer over 800 low and no-calorie beverages around the world.  This number will only grow as we continue to develop new and innovative sweeteners.

One of our most recent innovations is the use of stevia–a sweetener with origins in the chrysanthemum family and native to Paraguay.  In a growing number of countries we offer over 45 products sweetened in whole or in part with stevia, including Coca-Cola Life.   At 60 calories per 8-oz. glass bottle, our first reduced-calorie sparkling beverage sweetened with cane sugar and stevia leaf extract has 35 percent fewer calories than other leading colas.   Coca-Cola Life is currently available in Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, the United States and Mexico.

We know some people want to manage their portions, so we also offer many of our beverages in a range of sizes, including smaller cans and bottles.

Consumers want fact based information so they can make informed decisions about what they eat and drink. We provide transparent nutrition information, featuring calories on the front of nearly all of our packages. In fact, we became the first beverage company to commit to front-of-pack calorie labeling globally.

We understand that balancing calories consumed and calories burned is not always easy. We are determined to help get people moving by supporting physical activity programs in every country where we do business. One example is our work alongside the IDB in Colombia, where we have reached children and youth in Cali, Bogota, and Manizales through an innovative sports for development program.

Our Company has a strong history of partnership with the IDB, including multiple initiatives throughout Latin America in agriculture, sports for development, recycling and water and sanitation. For example, in agriculture, we have partnered on the Haiti Hope project, a five-year, $9.5 million partnership between business, multilateral development institutions and civil society partners to create opportunities for Haitian mango farmers and their families. Its goal is to double the income of 25,000 Haitian mango farmers between 2010 and 2015. For more information see: http://www.technoserve.org/blog/5-years-later-how-haiti-is-rebuilding.

At Coca-Cola, we believe active, healthy lifestyles lead to happier lives. That´s why we are committed to creating awareness around choice and movement, to help people make the most informed decisions for themselves and their families. We are a business with employees, friends and families in the communities we serve, and we care about their well-being.


Dr. llton Azevedo
Director Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Coca-Cola Latin America

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