The advocacy group The Praxis Project has filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association (ABA) over claims of engaging in false and misleading marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages.
The suit, which was filed with the federal court of Oakland, California on Wednesday, asked for relief to stop Coke and ABA from making claims that sugary drinks do not promote type 2 diabetes, obesity, or heart disease and sought to require more warnings for the consumers.
The 40-page lawsuit also pointed out that Coke advertised to children despite pledging that it would not market sugary drinks to kids under 12 years old.
The complaint mentioned marketing campaigns and initiatives that it claims falsely and misleadingly gives consumers the idea that they could balance their consumption of sugary beverage with careful monitoring of calorie consumption and exercise.
Giving Financial Backings To Biased Research
The lawsuit also alleges that Coke secretly funded and publicly promoted biased research as well as ran false and misleading campaigns despite growing scientific evidence that links its products to preventable diseases.
Studies have found a link between sugary drinks such as soda and increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. In a 2015 study, researchers found that consumption of just two high-sugar drinks everyday can raise risk for heart attack by up to 35 percent.
The lawsuit claims that the company pays medical professionals and researchers to contradict independent scientific evidence about the harmful health effects of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.
In 2015, a study led by a professor from Bristol University suggested that diet drinks are better than water for weight loss. It was eventually revealed that the research was funded by industry groups including research Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
A 2016 study, which was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. revealed that of the studies on the health effects of consuming sugary drinks that were published between January 2001 and July 2016, those that found no link between poorer metabolic health and sugary drinks were likely underwritten by producers of these drinks or written by researchers with financial backings from the industry.
"Today the soda industry is engaged in its own campaign of disinformation to cast doubt on the science connecting sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity, and obesity-related diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease," said Center for Science in the Public Interest litigation director Maia Kats, who is one of the lawyers representing Praxis in court.
"Through this lawsuit, Praxis seeks to stop Coke and the ABA from deceiving the public on the science linking obesity and related diseases to regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages."
Meritless And Unfounded Accusations
Coca-Cola said in a statement that the lawsuit is legally and factually meritless and added that it does not advertise its products to children below 12 years old. ABA, on the other hand, said that the accusations are unfounded.
"We take our consumers and their health very seriously and have been on a journey to become a more credible and helpful partner in helping consumers manage their sugar consumption," Coke said.