January 03, 2016
Marion Nestle talks about how Big Soda is under attack from communities and people who are tired of obesity, diabetes and bad science.
The ingredients in soda are simple: carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose, caramel color, phosphoric and citric acids, caffeine, and natural flavors. The ingredients may be simple, but their impact is profound.
Selling this flavored sugar water has turned The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. into multi-billion-dollar companies. As Marion Nestle points out in her exhaustively researched 500-page book “Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning),” the reach of these companies is global. They spend millions to influence health science, drive public policy and affect legislation.
For decades, most of Big Soda’s dealings were unseen by the public. Then in August 2015, The New York Times revealed that Coca-Cola funded the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the idea that the obesity epidemic can be pinned on a lack of exercise, not poor nutrition. The reaction to these revelations, especially from those involved in public health, was swift and negative.
The GEBN incident was perhaps the most prominent example of Big Soda’s influence on health science, but it’s far from the only one. “Soda Politics” shows how beverage companies work to influence governments, science and people, and in this interview Nestle details what she uncovered in the three years she spent writing the book.