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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Probes Soda Company Sponsorship of Health Groups

The nation’s two largest soda companies sponsored at least 96 national health organizations from 2011 to 2015, dampening the health groups’ support of legislation to reduce soda consumption and impeding efforts to combat the obesity epidemic, Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers say in a new study.

In addition, in the same five-year period, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo lobbied against at least 28 public health bills intended to reduce soda consumption or improve nutrition, according to the study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Previous studies of alcohol company sponsorship and tobacco sponsorship suggest that corporate philanthropy is a marketing tool that can be used to silence health organizations that might otherwise lobby and support public health measures against these industries,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, BUSPH community health sciences professor and co-author of the study.

The study researched sponsorships and lobbying efforts by the two soda companies to come up with a list of 96 national health organizations that accepted money from the companies. Twelve organizations accepted money from both companies; one accepted money from just PepsiCo; and 83 accepted money from only Coca-Cola. The authors note that the count could be skewed because Coca-Cola publishes a list of its recipient organizations, while PepsiCo doesn’t.

The sponsorship totals include two diabetes organizations — the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation — a finding that the authors called “surprising, given the established link between diabetes and soda consumption.”

To read more about the study, go to: