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  August 30, 2005

Contact: Josh Golin 617-896-9369 josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org

For Immediate Release

Advocates for Children Tell TIAA-CREF: Coke Is Not a Social Choice

Citing Coke’s aggressive marketing of nutritionally deficient products to children, more than forty distinguished healthcare professionals and advocates for children sent a letter today to TIAA-CREF asking the pension giant to remove The Coca-Cola Company from CREF’s Social Choice Account. The letter was written and organized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC).

“We’re in the midst of an epidemic of childhood obesity,” noted Alvin F. Poussaint, MD, a psychiatrist at Judge Baker Children’s Center and one of the letter’s signatories. “As long as Coca-Cola pursues profits at the expense of children’s health, it should not be allowed to claim the mantle of social responsibility.”

The letter reviews the growing body of evidence that soft drinks are contributing to health problems for children and the details the ways in which Coke regularly violates its own policy to “not aim or direct any marketing activity from any source to children under the age of 12.” The letter also describes how Coca-Cola’s lobbying has undermined efforts to rid our nation’s schools of soft drinks and concludes:

“A company that actively lobbies against policies that would improve children's diets and address childhood obesity is not a social choice. A company that aggressively markets empty calories to children is not a social choice. It is time for TIAA-CREF to offer a real social choice to its investors by offering funds that do not include The Coca-Cola Company.”

Signatories include Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics; Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest; Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids; and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation.

CREF’s Social Choice account is the world's largest socially screened fund for individual investors. As of December 31, 2004, the fund included 1,182,800 shares – valued at nearly $50 million – of Coca-Cola stock.

The complete text of the letter and its signatories are available at:

http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/tc.pdf

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC supports the rights of children to grow up – and the rights of parents to raise them – without being undermined by rampant consumerism. For more information, please visit: www.commercialfreechildhood.org. CCFC is a member of the Make TIAA-CREF Ethical coalition.
 
 

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