Coca-Cola Sued for Misleading and Deceptive Advertising of Sugar-sweetened Drinks

The Praxis Project, in collaboration with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, filed a lawsuit demanding that the Coca-Cola Company and American Beverage Association stop their misleading and deceptive advertising practices around the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. It is our communities of color that are bearing the brunt of the profit-seeking marketing that is pushed by Coca Cola and the ABA.

Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet, and are linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart and liver disease, obesity, and tooth decay. Diabetes cases in California jumped 50% between 2001 and 2012. Current trends predict that half of Latino and African American children will develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetimes. Additionally, obesity rates continue to skyrocket in our communities, with 9% of individuals considered obese in 1984 and over 25% today. This rate is expected to increase to 47% by 2030.

The Coca-Cola Company, with the help of the American Beverage Association, has long deceived consumers about the health impact of consuming Coke and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The complaint, filed in federal court in California, contends that the beverage giant and its trade association mislead and confuse the public about the science linking consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Deceptive advertising disproportionately harms our communities—Latino, African American, American Indian, and Asian Pacific Islanders– day in and day out, especially those communities facing a variety of other social and environmental setbacks. Advertising campaigns that emphasize energy balance are particularly devious, given that we know children rarely burn all of the extra calories through activity. Even if a child drinks one sugary beverage per day, that can result in almost 16 pounds of weight gain per year. For those kids drinking more than one soda per day, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to burn off the excess calories.

“We are tired of trying to counter the deep pocket advertising that misleads our communities regarding the dangers of regularly consuming sugary drinks” said Praxis Project Executive Director, Xavier Morales. “The price our community pays through decreased health, increased diabetes, and amputations is too high. Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Industry need to stop their predatory marketing and they also need to stop misleading our communities through their false health claims and continued masking of the insidious health effects of consuming sugared water.”

The lawsuit was filed today in United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Praxis Project, the plaintiff, is a nonprofit dedicated to building healthy communities by supporting policy advocacy and local organizing for community change. Praxis is represented in court by Maia C. Kats, litigation director of nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest; Andrew Rainer of the Public Health Advocacy Institute; and Michael R. Reese of the law firm Reese LLP.

The suit seeks declarative and injunctive relief that would, among other things, stop Coke and the ABA from engaging in the unfair and deceptive marketing of sugary drinks.

Source: Praxis Project