Two pastors filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, claiming the soda manufacturers knowingly deluded customers about health risks through its advertisings.
William Lamar and Delman Coates claimed Coca-Cola executives ran campaigns that intentionally confused customers on the link between the soft drinks and obesity, The Washington Post reported. D.C. Superior court filed the complaint on behalf of the members of the pastors and the Praxis Project, a public health group.
“Its become really clear to me that were losing more people to the sweets than to the streets, ” Coates, the pastor at Marylands Mount Ennon Baptist Church, told the newspaper.
Lamar, the senior pastor at D.C.’s historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, also echoed the same sentiment.
Coates added that he previously watched members of his congregation feeding babies Coca-Cola in newborn bottles.
“Theres a great deal of misinformation in our communities, and I think thats largely a function of these deceptive marketing campaigns, ” Coates told.
The lawsuit alleges that millions of dollars were spent on research, blog posts and advertising campaigns to disprove or confuse the link between ingesting sugary soda drinks and obesity.
Coca-Cola, however, said in a statement to the Washington Post the allegations were “factually meritless, ” adding that it will “vigorously defend against them.”
“The Coca-Cola Company understands that we have a role to play in helping people reduce their sugar intake, ” the statement read.
The American Beverage Association also disputed the claim that there is a is connected with soda intake and obesity.
“Beverages are not driving obesity rates, ” the organization told. “Obesity has been going up steadily for years while soda consumption has been going down steadily. Shouldnt obesity rates have gone down with the decline in soda intake if the two are connected?
The lawsuit comes after a similar suit was are presented in California last January, but afterwards withdrawn. That claim also said Coca-Cola and ABA were downplaying sugar’s role in the increasing number of obesity occurrences.
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