A new study has shown that Coca-Cola and Pepsi, the two major US soda giants, have given millions of dollars to health organizations while quietly fighting anti-obesity measures such as taxes on soft drinks, The Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo, from 2011 to 2015, sponsored 96 national health organizations battling public health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, said the research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
During the same period, the two soda companies lobbied against 29 public health bills intended to reduce soda consumption or improve nutrition.
The study’s Authors, Daniel Aaron and Michael Siegal of Boston University has warned that these companies lobbied against public health intervention in 97 percent of cases, calling into question a sincere commitment to improving the public’s health, “By accepting funding from these companies, health organizations are inadvertently participating in their marketing plans,” th
Most of the recipients of the companies’ largesse were private organizations, while some were part of the US federal government, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The donations have become larger in recent years, alongside mounting public health campaigns linking soft drinks to the country’s rising obesity levels — related to a growing prevalence of diabetes.
Coca-Cola recently revealed it had spent more than $120 million since 2010, financing scientific studies, partnerships with groups fighting obesity and lobbying.
According to The Center for Responsive Politics — an independent, nonprofit organization — PepsiCo on average has spent $3 million a year on lobbying since 2011.
– Sweetening their image –
By supporting health organizations, the companies are trying to improve their goodwill image with the public to distract from their lobbying efforts.
“By being able to say they partner with so many health organizations, they are able to create this image that they are actually contributing to public health,” Siegel said in a phone interview.