An Ethical Analysis of Coca Cola’s Misleading Obesity Research

In this article, an ethical analysis of Coca Cola’s misleading obesity research is performed using utilitarianism.

What is Utilitarianism?

Utilitarianism is suggested by the following question: “What good are rules unless they contribute to our well-being that is, unless (above all) following them enhances human happiness and reduces human suffering?” This is the position of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

Many philosophers believe that utilitarianism was developed by John Stuart Mill. According to Mill, the main requirement of ethic is “choose that act from among your options which is best from the twin points of view of increasing human happiness and reducing human suffering.”

In utilitarianism, actions are judged by their consequences and it involves the following question: do they promote happiness or lead to happiness?

Utilitarianism is the concept that business should act in ways that promotes happiness in the long term for all individuals that are affected by the business action.

Ethical Analysis Using Utilitarianism

After defining utilitarianism, it can be stated that Coca-Cola did not act in a way that promotes happiness in the long term for consumers by misleading them through obesity research. Their campaign did not promote happiness.

Coca-Cola deceived its consumers and the general public, and therefore acted unethically. From the perspective of the company’s employees and executives, the beverage retailer acted in favour of GEBN by supporting them financially and influencing its outcomes and the organisation’s directions.

Consecutively, they would benefit from the increase in sales. This would be a positive outcome for stakeholders if actions were not noticed.

From the perspective of the GEBN members, their actions can be considered positive because if their research was considered as reliable or believable, Coca-Cola’ profits would increase and they would keep receiving funding, thus creating a positive image to Coca-Cola soft drinks and to themselves for publishing the obesity research.

This would have been profitable for the universities that the GEBN members were included, through reputation from research, if it was reliable or believable.

Coca-Cola’s products consumers can be seen as the largest group of stakeholders that the decision of Coca-Cola soft drinks and the GEBN would influence.

If Coca-Cola consumers believed that to avert obesity they do not need to bother about eating less or drinking less soft drink but should just exercise and be more active, then this would have a significant negative impact on their health.

Coca-Cola’s misleading obesity research could have increased the rate of obesity if its consumers believed the research. Soft drinks can definitely cause obesity and other diseases.

When it comes to ranking beverages, soft drinks fall at the bottom of the list because they are so high calories and virtually provide no other nutrients. The average can of sugar-sweetened soft drink contains approximately 150 calories, nearly all of them from added sugar.

So if consumers were to drink just one of these soft drinks daily, and not cut calories elsewhere, they could gain up to 5 pounds in a year.

As stated in the introduction, Coca cola contains sugar and caffeine which are unhealthy; a twelve oz Coca cola contains thirty-nine grams of sugar.

One of the most dangerous aspects of it is that people who drink soft drinks tend not to feel as full as if they had eaten the equivalent calories from solid food, and research denotes they also do not compensate for the high caloric content of these beverages by eating less food.

Withal, drinking soft drinks every day can bring about diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Further research indicates that drinking soft drinks every day can also bring about premature death.

Three potential studies that incorporated repeated measures of both soft drinks and weight found that a rise in the consumption of soft drinks was significantly linked with greater weight gain and higher risk of obesity over time in 41 years old adults and 25 to 38 years old children.

Coca-Cola is morally compelled to bring a new strategy that will discourage its consumers from thinking that its soft drinks do not cause obesity and that consumers just have to exercise and be more active and do not need to bother about consuming less soft drinks.

In utilitarianism, the moral worth of advertising the products does not contribute to the general good or utility to the society.

Nonetheless, since utilitarianism indicates the overall good to the maximum number of individuals, Coca-Cola still has the elbow room to show that its products pass the moral test when analysed in comparison with the larger society rather than a specific segment of society.

Using utilitarianism, the beverage retailer also needs to publish figures that positively disclose that their soft drinks contribute the highest overall happiness to the largest part of society.

The absence of happiness in the long term is considerable from the large group of unfavourable side effects of drinking a large amount of Coca cola.

Coca-Cola’s influence over research does not have a positive impact on most of its stakeholders.

Even though the actions that the beverage retailer took were considered to be in good judgement for some groups of stakeholders, there is higher consequence due to the proportion of the group that is affected negatively from the outcome of the actions that were taken, and the asperity of the unfavourable and detrimental health effects.

The actions of the other stakeholders affected and changed the ability to choose to consume Coca-Cola’s products or not.

From the Utilitarian perspective, it can be stated that Coca-Cola acted in an unethical way due to the well-being of the people that have been affected negatively by the company’s misleading obesity research.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *