Can “Dumping Soda” Mitigate Global Obesity Trends?

Soda Cans
The "Global Dump Soft Drinks Campaign" urges governments to restrict soda marketing.
Photo by erasmusa via Flickr

Consumer groups on five continents are promoting a new “Dump Soda” campaign to educate people about the links between soft-drink marketing and rising childhood obesity. “Multinational giants like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are flooding the world with beverages that are nothing more than ‘liquid candy,’” said Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is coordinating the campaign with the International Association of Consumer Food Organizations. “As a result, consumers, including children, in all corners of the globe are increasingly developing obesity, ‘adult onset’ diabetes, and other health problems.”

The groups launched the Global Dump Soft Drinks Campaign at the Consumers International World Congress in Sydney, Australia, in late October. Their demands include asking governments to require soft-drink producers to stop advertising sugar-laden beverages to children under 16 and to impose a modest tax on soft drinks to fund nutrition and fitness programs. The campaign also promotes the marketing of lower-sugar products, selling existing products in smaller portions, and stopping sales of sweetened beverages in all public and private schools, from elementary to high school.

According to the campaign, over-consumption of carbonated soft drinks and other sweetened beverages is a major contributor to weight problems and obesity, which often begin in childhood and can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. Obesity is now at epidemic levels and affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs 2006–2007 report. Many developing countries in particular are struggling with the double burden of trying to feed their populations while also fighting obesity problems.

As sales of soft drinks in the industrial world have leveled off, Coca-Cola and Pepsi have increased their marketing to developing countries, according to the campaign. “We hope that consumers around the world can avoid the types of problems that high rates of soft drink consumption has led to in the U.S.,” said Silverglade.

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.

Consumer groups on five continents are promoting a new “Dump Soda” campaign to educate people about the links between soft-drink marketing and rising childhood obesity.