Here Are All 96 Public Health Organizations Paid by Coca-Cola and Pepsi
Like the tobacco and alcohol industries before, the sugar industry is using its deep pockets to influence policy—and prominent groups are listening.
Here Are All 96 Public Health Organizations Paid by Coca-Cola and Pepsi
By Charlie Sorrel /

Some of the most trusted organizations in public health, from Harvard University Medical School to the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association, are linked by two common donors: Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Together, the industry giants sponsored 96 national health organizations from 2011 to 2015, in addition to money spent on lobbying, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Those organizations include many which are dedicated to fighting obesity.

This isn't totally new information, but it is striking seeing the extent of their influence from a bird's-eye view. Authors Daniel Aaron of the Boston School of Medicine and Michael Siegel of the Boston School of Public Health collated publicly available information into one place, to better see the full extent of Pepsi and Coke's influence on health policy and research.

Aaron and Siegel noticed that nobody had collected this information together before.

"Although corporate sponsorship by tobacco and alcohol companies has been studied extensively," they write, "there has been no systematic attempt to catalog sponsorship activities of soda companies." Until now, that is.

The report contains not only the list of sponsored organizations, but also details of legislation that has been lobbied against on behalf of Coke and Pepsi. It shows just how pervasive these soda companies are in their efforts to protect their industry. Importantly, the authors excluded any health campaigns run or created by Coke of Pepsi.

Corporate sponsorship matters, because it is believed to affect the actions of the organizations receiving the money. "Health and medical organizations would naturally be expected to promote policies that reduce soda consumption," write the authors. "However, it has been documented that a number of health organizations have retreated from this responsibility by withdrawing from public debate on policies to reduce soda consumption, opposing soda legislation, or actually collaborating with soda companies to produce joint educational materials."

It is also a risk that sponsored organizations might feel obliged to give their sponsors spots at health conferences, allowing them to speak and influence the discussion. Corporate sponsorship from the tobacco and alcohol industries has been studied, by Siegel and others, and now that spotlight is being turned on sugar peddlers.

Of the 96 organizations receiving money from Coca-Cola and Pepsi, 63 were public health organizations, 19 were organizations, and the rest consisted of health foundations, government organizations, and food-supply groups. The list even includes the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, "which is surprising," says the report, "given the established link between diabetes and soda consumption."

The report gives seemingly great examples of the effects of these donations:

For example, Save the Children, a group that promoted soda taxes, suddenly dropped this effort in 2010 after receiving more than $5 million from the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo in 2009.

Here's another one:

For example, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which accepts money from Coca-Cola to administer a large public health initiative called Project HELP, staunchly fought Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed soda portion size limit in New York City.

The second part of the report, sourced from Google and LexisNexis, details the lobbying done by Coke and Pepsi in the same five-year period. This shows nothing that you wouldn't expect. The two soda giants lobbied against local, state, and national soda taxes, GMO labeling laws, restrictions on marketing to children and in schools, and restrictions on junk food.

These are far from surprising, but the extent of the lobbying is impressive. "These companies lobbied against public health intervention in 97% of cases," says the report, "calling into question a sincere commitment to improving the public’s health."

You can draw your own conclusions from these numbers, but the overall picture is pretty clear. Soda and sugary drinks can cause weight gain, obesity, and other health problems. Meanwhile, Coke and Pepsi fight legislation that would improve public health, and sponsor medical and health organizations, with the possible effect of influencing these organizations' policies and actions. That sounds like the kind of behavior that should be more closely scrutinized.

Have something to say about this article? You can email us and let us know. If it's interesting and thoughtful, we may publish your response.

0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 46,682 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 16,611 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 8,010 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
Introversion Is Not a Personality Fail
Cat Elz · 7,495 views today · A few years ago, I got into an argument with my now mother-in-law over my supposedly “backwards” ways. My transgression? I did not attend a party of my now husband’s (then...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 6,585 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
The Untold History of Palestine & Israel
22 min · 4,316 views today · Previewing Abby Martin’s on-the-ground investigation in Palestine, The Empire Files looks at the long history of Zionist colonization, expansion and expulsion of Palestine’s...
The Important Difference Between Love and Being Loved
2 min · 3,732 views today · We talk of love as if it were just one thing: in fact, it’s two very different moves, Loving and Being Loved. You start to grow up when you stop focusing on the latter and get...
World's Low-Cost Economy Built on the Backs of 46 Million Modern Day Slaves
Deirdre Fulton · 3,018 views today · 'Business leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are misguided and irresponsible.'
Our Obsession With 'Good Immigrants' Breeds Intolerance
2 min · 2,797 views today · Society sets the bar so high to become a 'good immigrant', argues writer Nikesh Shukla, that normal immigrants are demonised. He says non-Brits in the public eye have a simple...
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 2,765 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
Consent, Explained for Donald Trump and His Apologists
7 min · 2,552 views today · Vox's Emily Crockett explains why Donald Trump's comments aren't just "lewd," they're predatory. Further viewing, consent explained with tea. 
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,449 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 2,162 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Are You Lost in the World Like Me?
3 min · 2,069 views today · Animated film by Steve Cutts for 'Are You Lost In The World Like Me?', taken from These Systems Are Failing- the debut album from Moby & The Void Pacific Choir. 
A Simple 6 Step Self Compassion Exercise to Combat Depression and Low Self Esteem
5 min · 1,578 views today · It’s all too easy to be extremely tough on ourselves; we need – at points – to get better at self-compassion. Here is an exercise in how to lessen the voices of self-flagellation.
The Four Qualities of Love
2 min · 1,314 views today · Thich Nhat Hanh explains the Four Qualities of Love that can bring deep meaning to our lives.
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 876 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 865 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
Bird Watching on Lesvos Island - A Poetic Call to Stand With Refugees
3 min · 848 views today · Born in Darfur, Sudan and raised in Philadelphia, Emi Mahmoud is the 2015 World Poetry Slam Champion and the Women of the World co-Champion of 2016. From a young age Emi...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 742 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Here Are All 96 Public Health Organizations Paid by Coca-Cola and Pepsi