The complaint says Coca-Cola and its trade association, the American Beverage Association (ABA), mislead the public when they trash the science linking sugary drinks to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the like.
It cites the August 2015 account in the New York Times of Coca-Cola’s funding of the Global Energy Balance Network, which aimed to shift attention from poor diets as a cause of obesity to lack of physical exercise. Coca-Cola spent $120 million on research from 2010 to 2015 that could cast doubt on evidence linking health risks to sugary drinks.
It also cites quotations from officials of Coca-Cola and the ABA and researchers they fund “making false and deceptive statements about sugar-sweetened drinks.” For example:
- Coca-Cola’s senior vice president, Katie Bayne, claims that “[t]here is no scientific evidence that connects sugary beverages to obesity.
- “Simply put, it is wrong to say beverages cause disease,” the ABA stated in another release.
- One of the scientists funded by Coca-Cola, Dr. Steven Blair, stated that “there is really virtually no compelling evidence” that sugar drinks are linked to the obesity epidemic.
The complaint also charges that Coca-Cola paid dietitians to promote sugary drinks; it quotes one dietitian who suggested that an eight-ounce soda could be a healthy snack, like “packs of almonds.”
It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit fares. Stay tuned.