Big Soda is using Big Tobacco's playbook.

Big Soda is using Big Tobacco's playbook.

A recent review found that in the past five years, Pepsi and Coke sponsored nearly 100 health-related organizations including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and even The Obesity Society.

Donating to adversarial health groups is straight out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. That industry successfully changed the subject for years, focusing the conversation on freedom of choice instead of the risk that smoking poses.

It’s probably no coincidence that Coke and Pepsi have stepped up their donation efforts as obesity takes center stage as the next public health crisis. At the same time that the U.S. is spending an estimated $190 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions, Americans are consuming an average of 46 gallons of soda.

Coke and Pepsi are saying it’s because “they too want a strong, healthy America” and because they want to be part of the solution. But corporate philanthropy can also be used as a tool to silence the very health organizations that might otherwise support public health measures against those same corporations.

So it’s probably no surprise that Save the Children, a group that promoted the soda tax, suddenly dropped this effort in 2010 after receiving more than $5 million from Coke and Pepsi.  Or that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics declined to support the ban on limiting the size of soda servings in New York City, saying that education about sound nutrition should be re-emphasized instead.

We thought it would be a good time to remind you of the effects of soda on health. Here are a few paragraphs from a blog post we wrote in May of this year:

A typical soda contains a LOT of sugar. Take a look at the nutrition panel, and you’ll see that a 12 ounce can contains 10 teaspoons. Those 10 teaspoons of sugar translate into about 160 calories. Given that 100 extra calories per day lead to a 10 pound weight gain in a year – that one can of soda can literally add 15 pounds to your weight in a very short period of time. Is it any wonder then that 2/3rds of US adults are overweight or obese, and the rates of obesity in children have nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years?

But weight gain isn’t the only reason soda is bad for us. The Harvard School of Public Health reports the following disturbing facts about soda consumption:

    • People who consume sugary drinks regularly—1 to 2 cans a day or more—have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.
    • Those who average one can of a sugary beverage per day have a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack.
    • Those who consume a can of soda every day have a 75% higher risk of gout.
    • Soda is bad for your teeth and bones. I have seen patients who have completely destroyed their teeth this way. By the way, diet soda can be just as deleterious.

Are the donations really an effort to become part of the solution? We’ll let you make your own decision. But we do challenge organizations that are taking dollars to dispense health information to be aware of the potential conflict caused by their relationships.

At Step One Foods we are committed to creating solutions that make it easy for you to manage your own health. We promise to provide the most thoroughly researched foods that deliver real results not hype. Every ingredient has a nutritional purpose.

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