Across America and even globally, a cool soda is a treat on a hot day or a frequent treat. For the past several decades, however, there has been increasing concern that frequent consumption of soda products may be linked to serious health problems. These health issues include obesity, diabetes, heart disease and aggravation of metabolic conditions. Now, according to a recent report in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the beverage industry paid researchers to omit links between soda consumption and these medical conditions.
The report was published on Monday and was conducted by researchers at the University of California- San Francisco. The report stated that the soda industry “seems to be manipulating contemporary scientific processes to create controversy and advance their business interests at the expense of the public’s health.”
It is estimated that globally beverage companies have sales between $200-$800 billion in products a year. At least 65 percent of these products are sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Beverage powerhouses like Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Dr. Pepper and others have been found to give financial backing to researchers and nutritionists across the United States.
The research implies that these beverage industries may have been engaging in deceptive practices by peddling a product they knew was harmful to the public health. Such a finding would mean that the producers of the product and not the consumers are responsible for a public health crisis. The possibility of class action lawsuits similar to those that rocked the tobacco industry could be possible. In an article written by Michael T. Roberts, executive director, and Emilie Aguirre, academic fellow, UCLA School of Law Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy that was published in the New York Daily News, they state, “Legal theories against sugar-sweetened beverage companies could range from misleading advertisements, deceptive practices, and targeting of children, to serving foods that are dangerous (addictive) beyond the extent ordinarily understood by consumers.”
There is current litigation against some soda companies regarding their products; however, these lawsuits have been unsuccessful. This new information could bring more credence and facts to future lawsuits. The American Beverage Industry, however, takes exception to the report and its motivation. In a statement to media they respond in part by saying: “We too want a strong, healthy America…we have a right – and a responsibility – to engage in scientific research. The research we fund adheres to the highest standards of integrity for scientific inquiry based on recognized standards by prominent research institutions. It contributes to the body of scientific knowledge, meets the needs of regulatory agencies and enables consumers to make informed decisions.”