Coca-Cola, the world’s top beverage company and perennial target for critics of sugary drinks, is taking an unusually public stance on obesity by defending its health initiatives on prime-time television.

In a two-minute advertisement set to debut tonight on cable news channels, the Atlanta company will tackle what it calls the “complex challenge of obesity.”

In a spot called “Coming Together” – a name reminiscent of Starbucksrecent effort to get fiscal cliff negotiations moving – Coca-Cola will showcase its efforts to be transparent about the nutritional content of its products while also expanding its lineup of better-for-you beverages with low or no calories.

The ad will also urge viewers “to be mindful that all calories count” in managing weight – as in, not just the ones consumed from soda.

Then, on Wednesday, Coca-Cola will launch another commercial during the popular reality show “American Idol.” In the ad, dubbed “Be OK,” the company plans to shout from the rooftops that a single can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories and that burning them off can be fun.

“The Coca-Cola Company has an important role in this fight,” said Stuart Kronauge, general manager of Coca-Cola North America’s sparkling beverages division, in a statement.

It’s a battle that’s long been raging, with even more controversy in recent months.

New York City is poised to implement a ban on large sugary drinks approved by its health board last year. The move prompted opponents to brand Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a “nanny” while also inspiring other cities, such as Washington, D.C., to consider similar measures.

Last month, pop singer Beyonce faced blow-back from her $50-million endorsement deal with soda maker PepsiCo, which helped land her a plum performance during the Super Bowl halftime show while setting her up to have her face on some Pepsi cans.

Health advocates urged the superstar to back out of the partnership or donate the proceeds to hospitals, diabetes groups or other health organizations.

In October, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and other soda makers agreed to start listing calorie counts for their beverages on vending machines, initially in select cities such as Chicago and San Antonio.

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