Save the Children claims that "corporate donors support us but do not pressure us. Our focus is children not soda tax policy."
Writing in AlterNet, however, Marion Nestle suggests a different reason for their change of heart:
"A mere coincidence? I don't think so. This is a clear win for soda companies, just as was Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the educational activities of the American Academy of Family Physicians. You can bet those activities do not involve telling parents not to give sodas to their kids."
Coca-Cola spends close to $3 billion a year on advertising, yes that is billion with a "B." For that money they have become one of the most recognized brands in the world.
But Coca-Cola, along with other soda companies like Pepsi, are also in the habit of forming strategic alliances with health and charitable organizations that make it appear as though they are looking out for your health or interested in "saving the children."
Soda Companies' Strategic Moves to "Buy Off" Children's Charities
As Marion Nestle of AlterNet revealed, Pepsi gave a $5-million grant to Save the Children, a charity devoted to child health and development projects. The organization is also seeking a major grant from Coca-Cola to help fund health and education programs.
According to the charity's Web site:
"Save the Children cultivates strategic partnerships and innovative collaboration with corporations that share our vision of a better world for children. These efforts enable us to multiply our resources and the impact of our work for the benefit of children in the U.S. and around the globe."
No doubt an extra $5 million here and there will help Save the Children to carry out their initiatives, but in many cases the money will prompt them to change their policies. In this particular case, Save the Children used to be a strong advocate for placing taxes on soda, but they have since retreated from this position.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi, of course, are fiercely opposed to soda taxes and, it appears, they've succeeded in buying off one major player in the soda tax arena. Far more cost effective to throw the opposition a few million dollars to save potentially billions in lost sales due to new taxes.
Save the Children denies that the corporate sponsorship had anything to do with their change of focus, stating only that "Corporate donors support us but do not pressure us. Our focus is children not soda tax policy."
But Coca-Cola and Pepsi know better. They know that donating large sums of money to influential charities is a smart way to further their own agenda of selling more soda. And they also know that the more you associate their names with positive, charitable organizations and even health agencies, the more Americans will see them as wholesome, respectable corporations, complete with wholesome, respectable products.
Soda for Children, or Anyone, is a Health Disaster
The irony, of course, is that Coca-Cola and Pepsi are two major retailers of sugar in the United States, and it is very clear that sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup, which provides the most food calories in the U.S., is actually leading the charge for increasing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health problems plaguing the nation.
Within the first 10 minutes of drinking a soda, 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. This is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake, and one of the reasons you don't vomit as a result of the overwhelming sweetness is because phosphoric acid -- which can interfere with your body's ability to use calcium, leading to osteoporosis or softening of your teeth and bones -- cuts the flavor.
Within 20 minutes of your last sip, your blood sugar spikes and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.
It's no wonder soda has been implicated as one of the key factors in the obesity epidemic! Fructose in the form of high fructose corn syrup in sodas is the number one source of calories in the US, more than ANY other food.
There are two reasons fructose is so damaging:
- Your body metabolizes fructose in a much different way than glucose. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver.
- People are consuming fructose in enormous quantities, which has made the negative effects much more profound.
The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.
And whereas glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite, fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain's communication with leptin. The result is overeating, weight gain and ultimately obesity.
So Coca-Cola, Pepsi and any other soda maker really have no business lending their name to any children's charity, as they are producing the products that are plaguing kids with excess weight and its lifetime of related health issues.
One independent, peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet demonstrated a particularly strong link between soda consumption and childhood obesity. They found that 12-year-olds who drank soft drinks regularly were far more likely to be overweight than those who didn't.
In fact, for each additional daily serving of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumed during the nearly two-year study, the risk of obesity jumped by 60 percent.
Coca-Cola is a PR Master
Coca-Cola is not only targeting charitable organizations, but also health institutes, global events and more. For instance, Diet Coke recently teamed up with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to raise awareness for women's heart health programs. They were also the official "Beverage of Choice" for the 2010 winter Olympics.
As for their mission of corporate responsibility, Coca-Cola has made some small steps, such as using hybrid trucks, cutting energy costs, and paying to conserve water basins around the world, but Michael Blanding revealed in his book "The Coke Machine -- The Dirty Truth Behind the World's Favorite Soft Drink," that these steps are nothing more than a carefully orchestrated front:
" … I found that in many cases they were doing this more as a way to brand themselves as an environmental company and anything that would cost them a good deal of money they were not doing -- they reduced the amount of recycled material in their bottles because that is more expensive and they've lobbied against bottle bills that would affect their bottom line."
Blanding's investigative journalism also revealed other information that puts Coca-Cola into an entirely different light:
- Circumstantial evidence suggests that Coca-Cola may have been involved in violence against union members in Columbia and Guatemala, including murder.
- Coke was viewed as a patriotic beverage that supported U.S. troops during WWII. The government even granted Coca-Cola an exemption from sugar rationing so they could stay in production. But at the same time, the German subsidiary of Coke was flourishing and producing soft drinks for the Third Reich.
- Coca-Cola bottling plants in India have dramatically lowered the water supply, drying up wells for local villagers while also dumping cadmium, chromium and other carcinogens into the local environment.
Coca-Cola, of course, is not unique in their shady dealings. It is rare to find a multinational corporation that is operating according to any level of moral or ethical scruples, and throwing money at their critics (including in Washington) is a common method of quieting potentially bad press and keeping unfavorable legislation from passing.
Don't Let Coca-Cola and Pepsi Buy Off Your Health, Too
Soda giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi can easily manipulate the agendas of charitable organizations, public health agencies and even legislative bodies. They are master manipulators, and highly skilled in effective marketing strategies to influence consumers.
But you do not have to let Coca-Cola or Pepsi infiltrate your home, your health or your life. You can decide to give up these soft drinks in favor of your health, and you can teach your children, too, to opt for healthier beverages like pure water.
I firmly believe that giving up soda is one of the most important health steps you and your family can make. If you need help in overcoming this habit, try Turbo Tapping, a wonderful technique to resolve the emotional aspects of your soda addiction in a short period of time.