Concerns about corporate sponsorship of health organizations are shared by many health professionals around the world.
Over in Australia, Coca-Cola recently sponsored the Nutrition Society of Australia’s annual scientific meeting.
This did not sit well with Todd Harper (CEO of Cancer Council Victoria), who penned an op-ed on the issue for Australian independent electronic magazine Crikey.
- “No sporting club or health event would accept sponsorship from a tobacco company in Australia today, even if it was allowed. We know that smoking kills, and so do everything possible to reduce its visibility to ensure younger people aren’t encouraged to take up the habit. Obesity is also a known risk factor for many cancers, as well as other chronic diseases, yet organisations and events continue to accept sponsorship from the very companies peddling products that contribute to this significant health issue.”
- “Rather than being part of the solution like it claims, [Coca-Cola] is trying to veil the impact of its products by positioning itself as a promoter of physical activity. This is merely a distraction from the fact that it continues to promote its sugary drinks as being part of a healthy diet.”
- “The Nutrition Society of Australia, the peak scientific nutrition group in the country, has Coca-Cola as a gold sponsor for its Annual Scientific Meeting underway in Tasmania. This is disappointing on a number of levels, not least of all the fact that one of the themes for the conference is ‘Diet and cancer: what does the evidence show?”
- “These programs are vital yet are minnows in the campaign to win the healthy hearts and minds of the public when faced with the corporate might of the highly processed food and drink companies, but with some creative thinking and political will, the scales can be tipped in favour of a healthier way.”
We agree. Shifting the current status quo on corporate sponsorship of health organizations will not happen overnight, but is an effort worth taking on.