A new study found that cola giants Pepsi and Coke may fight wars for consumers’ taste buds, but they’re on the same page when it comes to influencing public opinion. Boston University researchers found that the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo lobbied against at least 28 public health bills aimed at reducing obesity, diabetes and other ailments. BU scientists Daniel Aaron and Michael Siegal published their study — “Sponsorship of National Health Organizations by Two Major Soda Companies” — in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The researchers found that the companies funded 96 health organizations. The study tracked donations between 2011 and 2015.
Pepsi and Coke have natural, dovetailing interests in opposing soda taxes — and in keeping sugar from dominating the healthcare conversation. Organizations with presumed interests in the health of their constituencies, like the N.A.A.C.P., have gone against soda taxes and accepted large sums from the soda corporations — though there is no evidence linking these actions. The New York Times reports that even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) accepted $2 million from Coke between 2010 and 2014. The NIH still advises people to limit sugar intake.