All That and a Bag of Chips

Choice As Ultimate Value” discussed some of the propaganda spread by Cart Choice, an astroturf civil rights organization that pretends to be all about caring and patriotism. Cart Choice has generated a plethora of slogans, but the gem of the collection is: “Families know what’s best for them.”

If so, why are the news media filled with gruesome stories of horrible deeds performed on children by parents and other relatives? If the family decides that it’s okay for a 12-year-old girl to marry a middle-aged man who already has five wives, is this really best? A few minutes’ thought could produce a dozen scenarios proving that families seldom know what is best. For proof, look at the astonishing number of parents who are not even able to recognize an obese child when one of them is right in front of their eyes.

Suspicion was first aroused when a whole crew of branded experts would all push the same talking point at the same time, and often even using the same words. For example, they would seize on the idea that a tax on soda is actually a grocery tax, and then bring in the slippery-slope argument, claiming that a soda tax will inevitably lead to more grocery taxes. They are smart enough to use the compassion argument, appealing to a segment of the readership by warning that the people most damaged by grocery taxes are the poor.

The argument on most prominent display here is patriotism, with the implication that enemies hate us for our freedom to imbibe all the fizzy drinks we want. When all else fails, pull out the flag and wave it vigorously enough to distract from the industry’s machinations. If skeptics respond with, “Don’t forget, back in 1775, Samuel Johnson decreed that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” — just ignore them.

Good guys to the rescue

Eventually, a Coke spokesperson admitted to possessing “a network of dieticians we work with,” the “paid talent” who are bloggers or speakers. For, Cory Doctorow wrote:

Coke has a longstanding practice of paying dietitians to tout the benefits of drinking high-sugar beverages (a practice that independent scientists universally consider to be unhealthy), but the dietitians tweeting on Coke’s behalf now are being especially lax about their financial ties to the company — while some disclose that they are making “sponsored” tweets, they don’t say who’s sponsoring them.

Ninjas for Health is a counterforce that calls out registered dietitians and other individuals and groups to be wary of, including Coke-funded dietitians and organizations. Another list keeps track of Cart Choice advisors.

This outfit is a real piece of work. Among the myths it wishes to defeat is the idea that any soda tax — like the one in Berkeley — reduces consumption.

Cart Choice praises the study of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, or PBT, completed by Oxford Economics. The Executive Summary section begins,

Unusually for such taxes, the Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) applies to all SBs, whether sweetened with caloric or noncaloric sweeteners. This reflects the origin of the PBT more as a revenue raiser than as a public health measure.

Right from the outset, they are caught in a big, fat fib. The fact that Philadelphia’s soda tax encompasses both natural and artificial sweeteners absolutely does not indicate that it is more of a revenue raiser than a public health measure.

Sugar and artificial sweeteners are both detrimental to public health, albeit for different reasons. But this is a sample of the sleazy rhetoric employed by hired pens, even the ones from ancient British bastions of higher learning. So why pay attention to any part of it? Did we mention that the study was paid for by the American Beverage Association?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Coca-Cola is paying dietitians to tweet scare-stories about soda taxes,”, 10/08/16
Source: “Check the Facts,”
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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

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.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


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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