Where’s the line between a focus on your career and the societal impact of your work?

Coca-Cola logoPhoto by Photon-Painter.

I was watching a presentation by Robert Lustig about the damage caused by sugary foods, and after listening for a while it raised a few ethical questions I'm curious to know your thoughts on.

Have a quick read of this excerpt.

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My colleague Dan Hale at the University of Texas, San Antonio, tells me that down there they've got a "Texas-sized Big Gulp" — 60 ounces of Coca-Cola, a Snickers bar, and a bag of Doritos, all for $0.99. If you did that every day that'd be 112 pounds of fat per year.

What's in Coke? Caffeine. What's caffeine? A mild stimulant, right? It's also a diuretic — it makes you pee.

What else is in Coke? Salt — 55mg of sodium per can. It's like drinking a pizza.

So what happens if you take-on sodium and lose water? You get thirstier. Why is there so much sugar in Coke? To hide the salt.

When was the last time you went to a Chinese restaurant and had sweet-n-sour pork? That's half soy sauce — you wouldn't eat that. Except the sugar plays a trick on your tongue. You can't even tell it's there.

Everybody remember New Coke? 1985? More salt. More caffeine.

That's the smoking gun. They know what they're doing.

That's The Coca-Cola Conspiracy.

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Coca-Cola conspiracyPounds of fat amassed per year by drinking one Coke per day.

Presentation embedded below. The transcript above begins at 12:35.

It's worth noting that some of the nutritional claims in Robert Lustig's 90-minute presentation have been disputed, but this is just one quick example relating to the ethical questions I was thinking about.

  • What clients would make you think twice about working with them?
  • Where's the line between a focus on your career and the impact of your work on society at large?
  • Does the ethical line you draw twist and turn as circumstances change?

Don't shoot the messenger, on davidthedesigner.com
How ethical are your design practices? on davidairey.com
Coca-Cola: generous benefactor or evil brand master? on ethicsingraphicdesign.org