Sponsorship of National Health Organizations by Two Major Soda Companies

The beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have given millions of dollars to nearly 100 prominent health groups in recent years, reports The New York Times, while simultaneously spending millions to defeat public health legislation that would reduce Americans’ soda intake, according to public health researchers. The Times story is based on a new report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

That study “investigates 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… From 2011 to 2015, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo 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.

During the study period, these two soda companies lobbied against 29 public health bills intended to reduce soda consumption or improve nutrition.” The authors conclude “there is surprisingly pervasive sponsorship of national health and medical organizations by the nation’s two largest soda companies. These companies lobbied against public health intervention in 97% 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.”

Citation: Aaron DG, Siegel MB. Sponsorship of National Health Organizations by Two Major Soda Companies.  Am J Prev Med 2016; in press. Corrected proof.