Coca-Cola is paying dietitians to tweet scare-stories about soda taxes

When registered dietitians like Roseanne Rust, Sylvia Klinger, Carol Berg Sloane tweet about proposed taxes on sugary drinks and claim that these will be used to impose "stealth tax" on other food, promoting the anti-soda-tax group Cart Choice (funded by Coke) they're reflecting the deeply held views of the Coca-Cola company and its industry body, the American Beverage Association -- and amazingly enough, they all take money from Coke or the ABA.

Coke has a longstanding practice of paying dietitians to tout the benefits of drinking high-sugar beverages (a practice that independent scientists universally consider to be unhealthy), but the dietitians tweeting on Coke's behalf now are being especially lax about their financial ties to the company -- while some disclose that they are making "sponsored" tweets, they don't say who's sponsoring them.

Ninjas for Health have created Twitter follow-lists of Coke-funded dietitians and front organizations, and by reading their streams, it's easy to see that they're all getting their talking points from the same source.

“We have a network of dietitians we work with,” said Ben Sheidler, a Coca-Cola spokesman, “Every big brand works with bloggers or has paid talent.”

So when a group of dietitians suddenly began offering their opinions on the #sodatax hashtag on Twitter this week, I got a little suspicious. Soda taxes are a strategy dietitians should (and do) support in order to decrease soda consumption and promote healthy options. Yet these dietitians were all posting content against the soda tax, including the industry talking point that a soda tax is a grocery tax. That’s just a coincidence right?

Coke-funded dietitians [Ninjas for Health/Twitter]

Coke-funded organizations [Ninjas for Health/Twitter]

Cart Choice advisors [Ninjas for Health/Twitter]

Is Coke Paying Dietitians To Tweet Against the Soda Tax? [Ninjas for Health/Medium]

(via Naked Capitalism)

Notable Replies

  1. TobinL says:

    Kicking the caffeine monkey at one point in my life did it for me... I seriously was drinking two colas a day and that went down to none. Now I have one cup of regular coffee and that is my limit.
    And I now got down to little to no sugar in my coffee or other things like that. It is amazing how sweet sodas are when you don't have them all the time. Heck how sweet some fruit is I can't eat more than a bite or two of some apples now as they are too sweet for me.
    I still love cola and other sodas but they are monthly treats rather than everyday drinks.


  2. Actually that predates Starbucks. I remember being a kid and being told that "coffee, regular" meant cream and sugar. "Coffee, black" meant just coffee.

  3. Do you like chai? I found a store that sells 'chai spices' in the bulk section, which is chai without the tea (and it's all big chunks of cinnamon, seeds, and unground spices). I started throwing a tablespoon of that in per three tablespoons of good quality beans (I grind the beans, then dump the coffee and unground spices into a small saucepan of boiling water that I just took off the burner and steep for five minutes before pouring through a ceramic pour over stand with a paper filter), and it is the most amazing cup of black coffee I have ever had, and I am a huge coffee snob.

  4. Here's what I did: at the onset of a two-week protein shake protocol, I attempted to give up coffee. I felt hideous, like thick bloodied pipecleaners and foam tubes were jamming my brain crevices. The fourth day I went to a chichi coffeehouse, had one cup of black coffee, licked the mug's inside clean, and never put any sweetener in my coffee again.

    I do alternate between using Ceylon cinnamon and heavy whipping cream in my coffee now. The heavy whipping cream is empty calories, and not recommended for people losing weight unless they're on a very low carbohydrate ketogenic (high fat) diet.

    Not only are dietitians/dieticians (global variant) paid by Coca-Cola to tweet scare-stories about soda taxes, they also comment on food politics blogs (e.g. aforementioned Rosanne Rust on Dr. Marion Nestle's blog) about how pop can be part of a 'balanced diet', which is hogwash. No one has a nutritional deficiency from soda pop abstinence.

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