Emails prove that Coca-Cola executives are trying to manipulate health policy
Is it possible for a world-famous soft drink maker to try to influence current health guidelines in order to increase its profit? The answer to this question appears to have to be answered with a clear “yes”. A published email correspondence from Coca-Cola's former executives has now made it clear that such interference actually took place.
In the course of the so-called freedom of information, an email traffic of executives at Coca-Cola was disclosed. It was clear to see that executives of the beverage manufacturer seem to be trying to influence the health guidelines in order to be able to sell more drinks. Deakin University experts analyzed these emails and published the results in a press release.
Coca-Cola tried to influence scientific evidence and expert opinions
Analysis of email correspondence from Coca-Cola executives by researchers at Deakin University in Melbourne found that Coca-Cola has an impact on health policy. The emails mentioned were written in 2015. The scientists received the incriminating emails through a request in the course of freedom of information. These emails showed Coca-Cola's conscious and coordinated approach to influencing health and nutrition guidelines. Attempts have been made to influence scientific evidence and expert opinions, for example, explains author Gary Sacks from the Deakin School of Health and Social Development.
Coca-Cola's tactics jeopardize international obesity efforts
"The tactics outlined in this release between a former Vice President of Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs and a former Senior Vice President at Coca-Cola pose a significant risk to international efforts to address key public health issues such as obesity." says Gary Sacks. Companies that sell unhealthy foods and benefit from their sale play a very important role in preventing obesity (obesity). This creates a strong conflict of interest for companies, especially when scientific evidence and government guidelines are actually directed against the consumption of unhealthy food.
How do large companies influence scientific evidence?
The tactics and procedures published in the emails are used in a similar way by tobacco or alcohol producers, the scientists explain. But how does influencing scientific evidence actually work? For example, on behalf of the company, researchers are developing their own “evidence” for the development of obesity. This can be done either through commissioned examinations and studies or through the influence of external organizations, the experts explain.
Employees are placed in scientific and medical institutions
Another way of exerting influence is to position the company in scientific and medical institutions. For this purpose, those affected use, for example, their employment in influential scientific institutions and medical associations. This enables these people to influence the results of conversations and discussions and manipulate them in the interests of the company, the researchers say.
Contacts with politicians can also lead to influence
Of course, there are other ways to exert influence, such as building relationships with political decision-makers and opinion leaders in today's society. Such contact enables even more extensive cooperation with important members of the government and the business community. The contacts can then be used to influence public debates.
The food industry tries to use politicians, researchers and doctors as tools
"Public health and the medical community need to be aware that some people in the food industry see them as tools that can help prevent possible harm to their profits," said Dr. Sacks in the press release. The current study highlights the importance of identifying and managing potential conflicts of interest among professional institutions, scientific societies, and policy makers, the expert added. (as)