Coca-Cola company is being sued by health activists for deceiving consumers about the health risks of consuming Coke and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
The lawsuit filed Jan. 4, on behalf of the non-profit Praxis Project, in federal court California alleges that Coca-Cola and its trade group, the American Beverage Association, deceived and confused the public—including children—about the health risks posed by sugar drinks, and claiming that there is no science linking sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity and related chronic diseases.
In a statement, the group said; “The campaign also led consumers to believe that all calories are the same, when science indicates that sugar drinks play a distinct role in the obesity epidemic.”
The group says the human body digests and processes foods differently. For instance, digestion of one calorie from almonds is not identical to the digestion of one calorie from sugar.
Praxis accused both defendants of using euphemisms such as “balance” and “calories in, calories out” to mislead consumers, and Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, of trying to mislead the public into thinking a lack of exercise was the real cause of obesity.
Praxis, a California non-governmental organization, is being represented by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, another nonprofit with a long history of litigation targeting the food and beverage industries.
Litigation director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Maia Kats, said in an interview; “The notion that Coke’s products can be part of a healthy diet is imprinted on the minds of millions if not billions of people, and requires corrective action.
From the 1950s until the late 1990s, the tobacco industry engaged in an elaborate campaign of disinformation to cast doubt on the science connecting cigarettes to lung cancer and other diseases.”
Acknowledging the lawsuit, the American Beverage Association and Coca-Cola spokesman characterized it as “legally and factually meritless”.
He said; “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. To that end, we have led the industry adopting clear, front-of-pack calorie labeling for all our beverages.
We are innovating to expand low- and no-calorie products; offering and promoting more drinks in smaller sizes; reformulating products to reduce added sugars; transparently disclosing our funding of health and well-being scientific research and partnerships; and do not advertise to children under 12.”