There's A Misleading Statistic In The Middle Of Coke's New Campaign About Calories

Coke Happy CycleThe Coca-Cola CompanyCoke’s ‘Happy Cycle.’

One of Coca-Cola’s latest ads, “Happy Cycle,” shows consumers just how fun it can be to stay healthy and burn off the calories they just consumed from drinking that can of Coke.

The ad begins with a flashback, showing black and white images of their product and says, “A Coke used to cost 5 cents.” Next they ask the question, “But what if a 12-oz. Coke cost 140 calories?” The ad then cuts to the “Happy Cycle,” which essentially is a big red bike attached to a Rube Goldberg contraption that delivers cans of Coke.

According to Coca-Cola, it will take a 140 pound male or female approximately 23 minutes to burn 140 calories on this oversized bicycle. Passersby are shown riding the bike, burning off calories on a counter, and being rewarded with a can of Coke once they have achieved the goal.

The problem is that American adults weigh much more than 140 pounds.

As Adweek points out, using data from the CDC, the average 20-year-old man weighs approximately 196 pounds, making the average man 56 pounds heavier than Coke’s Happy Cycle participants. The average 20-year-old woman, on the other hand, weighs about 166 pounds making her 26 pounds heavier.

Further, the amount of calories burned would depend on how fast someone is biking or the intensity at which someone is completing these activities. Coke didn’t do itself any favours here: A heavier person burns more calories doing the same exercise as a lighter person simply because they’re carrying more weight. For example, a Runner’s World calorie calculator shows that if a 200 pound male runs a ten minute mile, he will burn 151 calories. But when a 140 pound male completes the same activity, he will only burn 106 calories.

And the ad doesn’t talk about the amount of sugar packed into the drink. One can contains 39 grams of sugar. That’s just under 10 teaspoons of granular sugar (at an average of 4 grams per teaspoon, according to WebMD). According to the American Heart Association, having an excessive amount of sugar in your diet can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

The ad also presupposes that people want to spend 23 minutes sweating on a bike only to reward themselves 5 minutes later by replenishing the calories they just burned off. The experience seems designed to deter people from drinking Coke, not teach them that Coke and exercize ought to go together.

Here’s the ad:

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