Coca-Cola is one of the most popular soda brands in America, but according to a group of D.C. and Maryland-based pastors, it is also harmful to their predominantly black communities.
Pastors William Lamar, from DC’s Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Delman Coates, from Mount Enon Church in Maryland, claim that the soda manufacturer deceived customers of their product into believing the health risks weren’t as bad as they actually are. They claim the cost to their communities has been large.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a study that proves black and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by health problems, in comparison with their white counterparts. Diabetes, hypertension and obesity are all bigger concerns in communities of color. Soda is consumed at a higher rate in these communities and they are even exposed to advertising for these products at a higher rate, according to the CDC.
According to The Washington Post, , William Lamar, the senior pastor at D.C.’s historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and another black pastor have filed suit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, claiming soda manufacturers knowingly deceived customers about the health risks of sugar-sweetened beverages — at enormous cost to their communities.
The complaint…alleges that Coke and the ABA ran an intentional campaign to confuse consumers about the causes of obesity.
Lamar and Delman Coates, the pastor at Maryland’s Mount Ennon Baptist Church, claim soda marketing has made it more difficult for them to protect the health of their largely black, D.C.-based parishioners.
Obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and lower-extremity amputations are all far higher among people of color than among whites. These communities also drink more soda — and are exposed to more soda advertising.
“It’s become really clear to me that we’re losing more people to the sweets than to the streets,” said Coates, who said he has seen members of his congregation give their infants bottles filled with sugary drinks. “There’s a great deal of misinformation in our communities, and I think that’s largely a function of these deceptive marketing campaigns.”
In a statement, Coca-Cola dismissed the pastors’ charges saying “The allegations here are…legally and factually meritless, and we will vigorously defend against them. The Coca-Cola Company understands that we have a role to play in helping people reduce their sugar consumption.”
And in fact, it appears they have, introducing low and zero calorie versions of its most popular drinks while soda consumption as a whole has declined.
Per the American Beverage Association, “Beverages are not driving obesity rates. Obesity has been going up steadily for years while soda consumption has been going down steadily. Shouldn’t obesity rates have gone down with the reduction in soda consumption if the two are connected?”
The plaintiffs’ claims about Americans’ view of sugar is not supported by the available evidence. In fact, most surveys show people believe sugar to be harmful, but choose to consume it anyway.
Coca-Cola is dismissing the pastors’ allegations. “The allegations here are likewise legally and factually meritless, and we will vigorously defend against them,” said Coca-Cola reps in a statement. “The Coca-Cola Company understands that we have a role to play in helping people reduce their sugar consumption.”
Yes, drinking soda is violence.
The lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court on behalf of the pastors and the Praxis Project. Coca Cola dismissed the accusations as “legally and factually meritless,” and said that they “will vigorously defend against them.”
Do you think Coca Cola is racist?