- Soda companies may have invested millions of dollars in health and fitness programs across the country, but they still can't shake the not-so-sweet image of being called contributors to the country's rising obesity rates by city health officials.
- Even in cities where companies have made sizable investments, such as San Antonio, an anti-sugary drinks campaign is still taking on soda through a website, pamphlets, posters, fliers, digital billboards, and planned TV ads. "You wouldn’t eat 16 teaspoons of sugar. So why drink them?’’ a campaign pamphlet reads, a jab at the amount of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of soda.
- The Wall Street Journal describes soda companies' struggles as a "never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole. When it beats down critics in one place, they pop right back up in another."
Recently, no company has felt the pressure more than Coca-Cola Co., which was the target of an article from The New York Times that pointed out the company's funding of a nonprofit that said junk food isn't a direct obesity cause and can be aided with exercise. Coca-Cola retorted, saying the article "created confusion" and that the company has "always operated under the fact that a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise are key ingredients for a healthy lifestyle," said Ed Hays, Coca-Cola chief technical officer, in a USA TODAY column.
San Antonio isn't the only city fighting sugary drinks to combat obesity. Chicago proposed a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks in July, despite having received millions of dollars from the soda industry for health and fitness programs. San Francisco voted down a sugary drinks tax, but city officials have voted in support of several ordinances that would mandate health warnings on ads for sugary drinks, including a warning label on the packaging.
However, the soda industry doesn't believe in the validity of many of these claims. "William Dermody, vice president of policy at the American Beverage Association, said the industry opposes campaigns 'not supported by science' and that 'no single food or beverage uniquely causes obesity.' Coke spokesman Dan Schafer said the industry 'consistently opposes efforts that target one product or one category or that attack our products in sensational ways,'" according to The Wall Street Journal.