Muddying The (Sugar) Water: Coke And Pepsi Sponsored Nearly 100 ‘Health’ Organizations
We had the Pleistocene Age, the Jurassic Age, and now what some are calling the Anthropocene Age, the one that has been marked most distinctly by humans altering the planet.
But we may be entering a new era right now, even as we speak–that is if big multinational food and beverage companies have anything to say about it.
Call it the Bullshitocene Age.
This will be marked by future anthropologists as the era when bullshit came to rule to such a degree that there was no longer any reliable means of telling it apart from the truth.
Take for example the recent study showing that PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, two massive multinational food and beverage operations with a vested interest in selling sugar water to children have invested in nearly a hundred health organizations over the course of five years, health organizations which weakened the fight against obesity.
Sorry, that should read “health” organizations.
Researchers at the University of Boston conducted the study, which found that, combined, Pepsi and Coke gave money to 96 purported health organizations between the years 2011 and 2015, making them “unwitting partners” in promoting the soda companies’ agendas.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that 12 organizations accepted money from both companies, with one that accepted funds from just Pepsi and 83 which took money only from Coke. However, the study authors were quick to note that those numbers are likely skewed since Coca-Cola publishes a list of organizations it sponsors while Pepsi doesn’t.
Surprisingly–and, let’s be honest, shamefully–two diabetes organizations made the list of cola sponsorees: the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
That’s something akin to Greenpeace accepting money from a Japanese whaling concern.
The study authors put it a bit more mildly, saying that the link was “…surprising, given the established link between diabetes and soda consumption.”
But really, is it so surprising? Yes, it’s a very stupid and ugly move on the part of the diabetes organizations to accept the money. But we can only imagine the slick talkers who slithered out of the Pepsico and Coca-Cola nests to make their pitch for donating to these groups. And the arguments inside those organizations about how much good they could do with their 30 pieces of silver no doubt grew heated.
However, one wonders if the result was worth it. Again, according to the study authors, the companies “…used relationships with health organizations to develop positive associations for their brands,” and to “…neutralize any potential legislative opposition.”
An example they offered was that of the organization Save the Children, which had advocated for soda taxes in the early 2000s. That changed, however, in 2009 when the organization suddenly decided to drop that position.
They also happened to receive more than $5 million in donations from Coca-Cola and Pepsi that very same year.
Just a coincidence, surely.
But as they say in this new era, Money Talks, Bullshit Walks–all over you and your health.