The health risks of carbonated drinks are recognized in the United States. For a variety of reasons, their consumption has been trending downward for years.
But Coca-Cola has used China, along with other countries, to make up the difference in their soda sales.
Coke undermined Chinese health
Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ) reports that, according to research by Harvard University, “China’s efforts to address its growing obesity epidemic has been deliberately undermined by Coca-Cola. By developing connections with China’s leading health organizations, including the Chinese CDC and Ministry of Health, the company shifted the direction of obesity research in its favor.”
Coke’s ties with ILSI
In 1978 Coke began supporting the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). The ILSI proportedly exists to “provide science that improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment.” That outcome seems doubtful because ILSI is also supported by Nestle, McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, and PepsiCo.
China’s research community has welcomed reports from the International Life Sciences Institute because it has limited funding available to study chronic disease prevention and treatment. “Through ILSI, the company [Coke] provided research funding and sponsored conferences that aligned with the company’s corporate interests which allowed Coca-Cola to position itself as a charitable company and exert quiet influence on obesity science.”
“During the time period between 2004 and 2015, ILSI hosted six international conferences on obesity. While Chinese researchers and clinicians might have believed they were being presented with best practices in alignment with US standards, this was not the case. The research found that every ILSI-sponsored conference was stacked with experts who had financial ties to Coca-Cola or ILSI.”
Coke and China’s health bureau
Coca-Cola has clearlyinfluenced Chinese public policy initiatives. According to NPR, “ILSI-Global set up a Center for Health Promotion in Atlanta aimed partly at promoting physical activity solutions to the obesity crisis…. In 2004 the center unveiled Take 10, a 10-minute kid exercise program promoted by Coca-Cola…. Shortly afterward, ILSI-Global transferred just more than $50,000 to the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and by the end of the year the organization had rolled out its own childhood obesity program called Happy 10.”