SODA POLITICS by Marion Nestle


Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)
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Nestle (Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health/New York Univ.; Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics, 2012, etc.) calls for a campaign to regulate and tax the multibillion-dollar soda industry modeled on the successful anti-smoking campaign.

There is a proven correlation between the rises in obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay and the increasing amounts of sweetened sodas consumed in the United States and globally. We must address this health hazard, writes the author, by doing “everything possible to discourage the marketing, promotion, and political protection of sugary drinks.” As Nestle implores, “everyone interested in health should be taking a closer look at who, when, where, and to whom soda companies are marketing their products.” The current marketing juggernaut is a result of a series of long-running, major campaigns by the significant players in the industry. For example, “in the early 1990s,” writes the author, “Coke and Pepsi began to offer large sums to colleges and universities for the right to sell only their company’s products on campuses.” At the end of the decade, similar arrangements were made with “high schools, middle, and even elementary schools.” Efforts by municipal and federal governments to rein in the industry—e.g., in New York City, a subway-poster campaign coupled with a proposed soda tax and limit on portion size—have been consistently watered down or defeated by the industry, which uses “marketing, lobbying, partnerships, and philanthropy to promote sales, regardless of how their product might affect health.” Sponsorships of sports events, celebrity endorsements, and high-profile disaster-relief efforts also foster brand allegiance and maintain popular support for brands such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Nestle reports that health advocates have achieved some success in reducing soda consumption in the U.S., but much remains to be done. In 2014, Coca-Cola diversified into “highly caffeinated energy drinks recently associated with the deaths of several young people.”

A hard-hitting, exceedingly well-documented call for action.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-19-026343-0
Page count: 564pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2015


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