Today I am unhappy to reveal dismaying behaviors of two specific corporations – Coke and Pepsi. This particular study reported by the New York Times examines data from 2009 – 2015 – very recent events.
Just last month I blogged on a study that revealed the dark manipulation of information that had occurred by the sugar industry back in the 1960’s. These deeds played a significant part in shaping the low fat/high carb food trends that in the end resulted in our current health epidemic of diabetes and heart disease.
This new study, published earlier this month in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, takes a comprehensive look at donations made to health organizations by beverage giants, Pepsi and Coke. At the very same time these corporations were spending millions of dollars lobbying against public health measures designed to tax sodas or educate about the associated dangers of sodas and obesity. Goodness gracious! What’s wrong with this picture?
In a nutshell – the goal of the Coke and Pepsi donations seems to be to distract public health groups from focusing on sugar related reforms. The following organizations are cited in the study as having received large contributions from Coke and/or Pepsi, and in many cases have subsequently “lost interest in” soda reform or tax initiatives, or oddly chose to take no position:
- Save the Children – $5 million from Pepsi and seeking more from Coke
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – $525,000 from Coke in 2012 and $350,000 in 2013
- N.A.A.C.P. – $1 million between 2010 & 2015 from Coke
- Hispanic Federation – $600,000 between 2012 & 2015 from Coke
- American Diabetes Foundation – $140,000 from Coke between 2012 & 2014
- American Heart Association – $400,00 from Coke between 2010 & 2015
A tremendous amount of money has been spent in lobbying against soda reforms. In 2009 alone, a federal soda tax was proposed to curb obesity and help fund healthcare reform. Coke, Pepsi and the American Beverage Association together spent $38 million lobbying against the measure. That proposal didn’t have a snowballs chance… Additional millions have been spent in vigorous lobbying since then.
These are a just a few of the discoveries made by the study’s authors, Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University school of public health and Daniel Aaron, a student at Boston University’s medical school.
In a quote by Aaron, the study’s co-author “We wanted to look a what these companies (Coke and Pepsi) really stand for, and it looks like they are not helping public health at all – in fact they’re opposing it almost across the board, which called these sponsorships into question.” Sadly it appears that positions of “health groups” can be, and too often are, swayed by funding.
This report clearly shows that Coke and Pepsi spend a lot of money to look good, with thinly veiled ulterior motives. I doubt you’re tremendously surprised at this information. And I’m sure you’ll agree that knowledge is power. In truth, we all vote with the dollars we spend. Perhaps this information regarding how these companies conduct their business will impact the choices you make at the cash register.