In this post for Medium, Dr. David Ludwig explores Coca-Cola’s dilemma as it tries to resolve the conflict “between its responsibility to the public and to its stockholders” given recent events.
While Coca-Cola is no longer a sponsor of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (a decision made by Coca-Cola; it would certainly have been more impactful had it been AND’s decision), PepsiCo still is. Many of the points raised by Dr. Ludwig also apply to PepsiCo — which we still do not think is an appropriate sponsor for any health organization.
- “Coke has a fundamental conflict between responsibility to the public and responsibility to its stockholders. Corporate actions that benefit public health will undermine their current business model, and those that benefit their business will undermine public health. Coke’s sponsored research on calorie balance is ultimately a ruse that can only serve to deflect attention away from the real issue.”
- “The solution to this dilemma is for Coke to pivot away from sugary beverages and toward more healthful products. This can begin with a few bold steps:
- Acknowledge that sugary beverages contribute importantly to obesity when consumed in prevailing amounts.
- Discontinue all direct and indirect advertising and promotion of sugary beverages — in the US and internationally (so as not to shift the burden of sugar-related diseases to especially vulnerable populations).
- Stop opposing efforts to limit consumption of sugary beverages (including warning labels and taxes).
- End sponsorship of research involving individual scientists or their institutions. Any support for genuinely objective research should be directed to the National Academy of Medicine or the National Institutes of Health (as was done by the National Football League to study traumatic brain injury).
- Call upon other beverage companies to join in these efforts.”