Considering sugar’s part in America’s obesity outbreak, one might suppose soft drink firms including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo throwing funds at leading health organizations would be a bad notion. Wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest? These firms earn money by selling sugary sodas, and these organizations perform a public service by warning consumers of said pops’ potential dangers.
Terrible news, from a few Boston University researchers: Coke and Pepsi sponsored 96 American health organizations between 2011 and 2015. And these aren’t groups that would be unheard of to the regular U.S. citizen. They’re major names like the American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association. Public Health Conference and the Childhood Obesity and National Dental Association are included too.
“These firms lobbied against public health intervention in 97 percent of cases, calling into question a true commitment to enhancing the public’s health,” reads the conclusion of the study conducted by writers Daniel G. Aaron and Michael B. Siegel. “By taking funding from these businesses, health organizations are inadvertently participating in their own marketing plans.”
Among the “public health interventions” Coke and Pepsi lobbied against during the four-year stretch were health warnings on ads for sugary beverages, guidelines for advertising food to kids, portion size limits on sugary beverages, and a whole slew of taxes on soft drinks. While the companies were paying their top priority to groups that are charged with making public health this lobbying all came.
A year ago, the International Energy Balance Network shut down after it was discovered the vague health organization, which claimed to be fighting obesity but found no link to sugar-packaged pops, was funded by Coca-Cola. It appears improbable the American Heart Association, or the other aforementioned Coke- and Pepsi-funded groups, will be going away anytime soon.
“Such sponsorships are likely to function advertising functions like to dampen health groups’ support of legislation that would reduce soda consumption and improve soda companies’ public image,” the study reads. “It’s urged that organizations locate alternate sources of earnings so that you can stop indirectly and inadvertently increasing pop eating and causing significant damage to Americans.”