NEW YORK (AP) — The tweet from a group that finances development in Latin America was direct: Sodas do not offer beauty or joy, just a lot of sugar.
There was one problem for the organization. Coca-Cola was a funder.
The Inter-American Development Bank’s management told Coke it hadn’t been aware of the tweet, and subsequently invited the company to write a blog post explaining how the beverage giant was helping address obesity, according to an email by a Coke executive obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
The exchange provides another glimpse of the food industry’s pull in shaping messages about its products. With obesity becoming a more pressing global problem, two reports in science journals are calling for policies that limit industry influence and reviving debate about what role food companies should play in public health efforts.
In the medical journal Lancet, a report says skepticism about the motives of ultra-processed food makers is justified, noting how sugary drink manufacturers have fought government efforts to reduce soda consumption. The report says reducing industry influence in policy development will help governments address the intertwined problems of obesity, malnutrition and climate change.
A separate report in Milbank Quarterly depicts Coke’s ties with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relying partly on previously published emails obtained through records requests. Gary Ruskin, one of the report’s authors, said Coke in particular has been the subject of many recent revelations because of the company’s unusually far-reaching ties into regulatory and scientific matters.