Global Dump Soda Campaign

Once a distinctly American problem, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasingly becoming a global challenge, with an upswing in obesity and overweight leading to increases in diet-related diseases and mortality in less developed countries.

Surges in soft drink consumption contribute to this problem.  In fact, less developed countries now represent the largest growth markets for soft drink producers, as consumption has leveled off, or slightly declined, in the United States and parts of Europe.  Consumers in countries such as Mexico, Egypt and China are currently being targeted by the soft drink industry with aggressive marketing campaigns, sometimes aimed at children and youth.

To draw awareness to the growing problem and foster improvement, CECHE is collaborating with CSPI in its Global Dump Soda Campaign, launched on October 29, 2007 at the Consumers International conference in Sydney, Australia.  The launch received prominent media coverage in Australia and was also reported in the Hong Kong, UK, U.S., and Canada trade press.  (News coverage can be viewed on the campaign’s web site at )

Indian Campaign Launched
CECHE provided support for CSPI’s collaboration with VOICE—a consumer advocacy coalition in India— that is among more than a dozen non-governmental organizations that are collaborating with CSPI.  In a press release in December 2007 VOICE  cited rapidly rising rates of overweight and obesity, including childhood obesity; their connection to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses; and the clear link between consumption of sugary beverages and this disturbing trend. VOICE urged India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Ministers for Health & Family Welfare and Consumer Affairs to safeguard the health of the food supply and Indian children through the following measures:

  • Curbs on soft drinks marketing, particularly to children;
  • Promotion of lower-sugar products;
  • A reduction in portion sizes;
  • A limit on sponsorships;
  • A small value-added tax on soft drinks, the proceeds of which would go towards physical activity and nutrition education programs; and,
  • Mandatory calorie labeling and serving sizes. 

VOICE intends to also bolster its efforts by mounting local media campaigns and by putting pressure on industry.  Even in these early stages of the campaign, the partners are encouraged that leading beverage makers PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are already reaching out to discuss demands.

International Front Advances

In January 2008, CSPI issued a news release in the American media market to draw further attention to the global campaign, reporting that in New Delhi, the Indian Federation of Consumer Organizations announced a campaign on December 24 (National Consumers Day in India); in Malaysia, the Consumers Association of Penang announced a campaign at a press conference on December 14 (see news clipping); and in Stockholm, the Swedish Consumers Coalition commenced a campaign on December 10. National campaigns have also been kicked off in Mexico, Australia, Uganda, and Canada.

The consumer organizations’ letters called on Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to cease all marketing of sugar-laden or caffeinated beverages to children under 16; stop selling sweetened beverages, including sports drinks and non-carbonated fruit-flavored beverages and teas in all public and private elementary, middle, and high schools; prominently display the calorie content per serving on the front labels of containers; include rotating consumer alert messages on the labels of sugary beverages such as “High sugar—drink only occasionally”; and limit sponsorships promoting physical activity and health to blind trusts overseen by government agencies.

The letters also called on corporations not to oppose small taxes on soft drinks, the revenues from which could be used for physical activity and nutrition programs. Soft drinks are already taxed in some jurisdictions in the United States and Canada. Last year in the U.S., Coke and Pepsi actually supported legislation that would have removed non-diet soft drinks from schools. Coca-Cola has agreed to front-label disclosure of calorie content in Australia. But advances like those are often confined to just one country, in response to national political pressures.

The partners seek to establish a working relationship with industry leaders in areas where progress can be made and further develop the Dump Soda Campaign website as a communication point for campaign advocates.  In India specifically, the partners are working with VOICE on a continuing nationwide campaign to remove soft drinks from schools. 



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