'Private emails that were released in a shocking report show how Coca-Cola tried to manipulate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to influence policy on nutrition in ways that would benefit their products. The relationship between the soft drink maker and the public health agency could have negative consequences for the health of millions of Americans.
In a paper published in the Milbank Quarterly Journal, email exchanges that were obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests show how current and former staff at Coca-Cola tried to frame the debate surrounding the role of sugar-sweetened drinks in the nation’s obesity epidemic in addition to trying to lobby key decision-makers.
It is believed that Coca-Cola was specifically hoping to downplay the way its sodas contribute to obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, and Type 2 diabetes and prevent measures like sugar taxes from being put in place that would impact their profits.
In one email, former Coca-Cola exec Alex Malaspina contacted ex-CDC official Dr. Barbara Bowman about concerns she had about the WHO’s Director-General backing restrictions on sugary sodas through soda taxes. In response to the email, which says that “something must be done” about it, Bowman offered up some contacts with close connections to the WHO, including Bill Gates. The very familiar language and quick reply suggested the two were quite close. In fact, Bowman had worked for Coca-Cola before joining the CDC.
In the emails, Coca-Cola execs can be seen saying that “the threat to our business is serious,” expressing concerns that the WHO’s criticism of sugary drinks could have “significant negative consequences on a global basis.”'
Read more: Coca-Cola tried to manipulate the CDC to “influence policy on nutrition and artificial sweeteners”
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