Coca-Cola and the Presidential Candidate


This is a convoluted story of political machinations, so buckle up. Last November, as part of the big Hillary Clinton email scandal, it was revealed that the Coca-Cola Company had not only been working on her, but had also been haranguing various other public figures and journalists.

Coke wanted to sell the idea that the obesity epidemic is due solely to the lack of physical activity, especially among children. The corollary to the theory is that sugar-sweetened beverages bear absolutely no responsibility for obesity; and the other spinoff is that soft drinks have been falsely accused, and wrongfully and tragically maligned.

Also, it was whispered that Coke had donated somewhere around $10 million to Clinton’s campaign, and expected that the candidate would in turn stop supporting the Philadelphia soda tax and renounce it and every other attempt at such a tax. Coke executives assured each other that Clinton’s advisors were “working on how to walk this back” — in other words, on how to create such a graceful flip that the public would not even notice that she had reversed her position.

For more background, journalist Jill Ettinger added:

Earlier this year, University of California research found that over several decades the sugar industry paid researchers to help shift focus away from sugar and toward fat as the culprit in health issues including heart disease. The move helped to shape flawed decades-long dietary recommendations and a low-fat craze that led millions of Americans to avoid fats critical to health (such as omega-fatty-acids) and indulge in harmful trans fats instead.

The efforts to make Clinton change her policy turned out to be moot, as Donald Trump won the presidential election. During the past half-year, the changeover of personnel in Washington, D.C., has given Americans plenty to think about, to the point where a seemingly minor but potentially disruptive governmental appointment could go unnoticed. However, this one matters quite a lot.

Earlier this month, the federal department of Health and Human Services announced that the new chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be Brenda Fitzgerald, who trained as an OB/GYN doctor and went on to be the Public Health Commissioner of Georgia. That unfortunate state ranks as one of the most obese, and also distinguished itself by wanting a ton of exemptions when the federal government made new rules about junk food vending in schools.

While in charge of Georgia’s health, Fitzgerald was instrumental in the formulation of SHAPE, a statewide effort to address childhood obesity through “physical activity before class, physical activity during class, and more structured recess,” which in practical terms, came out to about 30 minutes of extra activity per day.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either exercise or fitness, and kids have a particularly strong need to move around a lot. But critics point out that it all sounds like more of the victim-blaming habitually practiced by Big Food and Big Soda. Corporate executives enjoy promising their customers that the products are not at fault. If the consumer will just be reasonable and devote about 20 hours per day to working out, the weight gained can be easily lost.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Soda Industry’s Panicked Downward Spiral,”, 11/08/16
Source: “Trump’s new CDC chief championed partnership with Coca-Cola to Solve Childhood Obesity,”, 07/08/17
Photo credit: Bill Wilson (okchomeseller) via Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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