The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have been funding 96 national organizations whose stated purpose is promote and protect health of Americans between 2011 and 2015, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine which was published on Oct. 10, 2016.
Among these organizations are the American Red Cross, the American Medical Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Center for Food Integrity as well as a number of universities. Find the full list here.
According to the study, soda consumption is a major player in the steady climb in U.S. obesity rates. "About half of Americans drink sugary drinks every day. Recently, it has been estimated that soda consumption caused one fifth of weight gain in the U.S. between 1977 and 2007."
The study was conducted to observe "the nature, extent, and implications of soda company sponsorship of U.S. health and medical organizations, as well as corporate lobbying expenditures on soda- or nutrition-related public health legislation from 2011 to 2015."
Researchers delved into financial connections that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo had with these 96 organizations. Sixty-three were public health groups, 19 were medical organizations, seven were health foundations, five were government groups and two were food supply groups.
PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have lobbied against 28 bills opposing their products. PepsiCo has spent more than $3 million every year, and Coca-Cola has spent more than $6 million, according to the New York Daily News. The research that was often used for their purposes came from many of these health organizations.
Pepsi funded 14 percent of the organizations according to the study. Coca-Cola was found to have funded 99 percent of them based on their having their funding records more available to review.
This financial support may result in biased findings to research. The journal PLOS Medicine published an analysis of research on beverages which indicated that "research by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the American Beverage Association and the sugar industry were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than studies whose authors reported no financial conflicts."
“To see all these organizations [accepting money] is shocking and surprising,” study author Daniel Aaron, a medical student at Boston University was quoted by Time. “I don’t think companies have a legal duty to protect people’s health, but I think these groups do.”
The New York Times reported that sales of Coke have gone downhill to the tune of about 25 percent over the last couple of decades.
In 2015, according to the New York Times, Coca-Cola had been funding a new nonprofit called the Global Energy Balance Network, trying out a new message.
Coca-Cola offers up a so-called "science-based" answer to overcoming obesity in the United States. To have a healthy weight, the soda company advises, if you get more exercise you don't have to worry about cutting calories. Presumably, this means you can feel free to drink all you want of their soda.
The message is a means of trying to take the pressure off of sugary drinks where obesity and Type 2 diabetes are concerned, and confuse the public. Health experts view this as an attempt to deceive people into believing that the consequences of consuming unhealthy food and beverages can be eliminated by more exercise.
This research only covered these two soda companies.
Reviewed October 11, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo funded nearly 100 national health organizations, study says. Oct. 11, 2016.
Sponsorship of National Health Organizations by Two Major Soda Companies. Oct. 11, 2016.
Soda Companies Fund 96 Health Groups In the U.S. Oct. 11, 2016.
Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets. Oct. 11, 2016.