The Reign of Big Soda Continues

In the last post we saw how the industry spent a lot of money influencing the people of Washington State to exempt their harmful products from sales tax, and how they will predictably use that success as a template to convince states, one by one, to forget about ever taxing beverages, whether sweetened naturally or artificially. Sadly, the people in favor of taxing soda have nothing on their side but evidence, for instance:

Philadelphia chose a tax on sugary drinks and recently reported that unemployment actually declined in economic sectors related to the beverage industry. In Berkeley, a study of shoppers’ grocery receipts found that grocery bills stayed stable in the first year of their sugary-drink tax.

While that Washington initiative was being fought, a man in France was sentenced to three months in prison, and his sons were taken to foster homes. According to,

The elder boy had to have seven sugar-rotted teeth removed, and the second does not speak. Both have been taken into care, where they have been introduced to meat and vegetables.

The family’s living space had no refrigerator, or toys for the kids, who slept on a mattress without covers. The main reason for the children’s removal, however, was that their diet consisted of nothing but cake and Coke. Various sources described the father as illiterate, innumerate, and guilty of domestic violence. Not exactly the type of celebrity a company should want endorsing its product.

Early in 2019, there was renewed interest in the scandal that stemmed from emails exchanged between high officials in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and executives at Coke, between 2011 and 2015. The industry wanted pressure exerted on the World Health Organization to blame obesity on lack of exercise and never, ever, on diet.

The adverse publicity resulted in two high-level resignations from the government body, but an organization called U.S. Right to Know was not satisfied. Early in 2018 it had sued the CDC, on grounds that the agency had not fully complied with the earlier requests for records of its correspondence with Coke.

Interest was also re-aroused in how the CDC Foundation, whose ethics guidelines state that it is not supposed to accept contributions that could tarnish its nonprofit integrity, accepted $1 million in donations from Coca Cola during that same time frame. Politically, no favoritism is apparent here.

The refreshingly non-partisan co-director of U.S. Right To Know, Gary Ruskin, was quoted as saying,

How many real investigations into the power of big sugar and big soda happened during the Obama or Trump years? The answer: zero. How many major regulatory efforts were undertaken? Answer: zero.

In February, two members of Congress formally requested that the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services should investigate that Coke-CDC relationship. A worldwide pattern is becoming apparent, and China is only one of the other countries besides the United States where Coke has manipulated public health policy for its benefit.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “‘Big Soda’ wants to take away our control,”, 09/28/18
Source: “Father of two jailed in France for feeding his children only Coca-Cola,” TimesNowNews.com10/25/18
Source: “The Health 202: Coca-Cola emails reveal how soda industry tries to influence health officials,”, 01/29/19
Source: “Two congresswomen want an investigation into CDC’s crooked relationship with Coca-Cola,”, 02/05/19
Image by Eva/Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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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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