US soda giants have been accused of emulating the behavior of big tobacco lobbying tactics in the US in a study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been called into question by the report, with it claiming they used their collective weight between 2011 to 2015 to lobby against 29 health bills that would have effectively reduced soda consumption – which is often linked to sugar consumption and obesity.
The Boston university study claimed the companies “were found to sponsor a total of 96 national health organizations, including many medical and public health institutions whose specific missions include fighting the obesity epidemic”.
Public health groups accepting money from the soda companies also came under the microscope: “By accepting funding from these companies, health organisations are inadvertently participating in their marketing plans.”
Between 2011 and 2014, Coca-Cola spent $6m per year sponsoring national health organisations, PepsiCo spent $3m. By accepting this money, public health organisations “generate a conflict of interest, which introduces a subconscious bias in favour of the donor company," it claimed.
It concluded: “Lessons can be learned from the history of tobacco companies, which have long given money to sympathetic organizations that deal with domestic abuse, hunger, and minority advancement. It is recommended that organisations find alternative sources of revenue in order to stop indirectly and inadvertently increasing soda consumption and causing substantial harm to Americans.”