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Minority Groups Stand Out as Unlikely Ally With Soda Industry

Another attempt to solve America’s obesity problems through new laws has been thwarted this week by a New York judge who decided to strike down the Bloomberg Administration’s ban on large, sugary beverages.

It seems like America will never shake the embarrassing moniker of being one of the most overweight nations in the world, and politicians’ efforts to get rid of the shameful title certainly aren’t making any progress.

The Bloomberg administration’s soda ban has officially been struck down but you might be surprised at some of the major groups who are joining in on the battle to stop any type of ban or tax on sodas.

Advocacy groups for African American and Hispanic civil rights are coming together with health advocacy organizations and many of the forerunners in the soda industry in order to make sure no new laws are passed that would hurt the soda industry.

What makes this so shocking is that most of the victims of the obesity epidemic in America belong to these two minority groups.

It is more likely to find an overweight black or Hispanic child than it is to find an overweight white or Asian child. So why would these minority groups want to join forces with soda companies?

Is it because they understand what it’s like to be discriminated against and they don’t want the same thing for the soda industry? No.

Maybe it’s because sodas are a relatively inexpensive drink that they can get for their families and a tax on the beverage would make it unattainable for them? No, it’s not that either.

You see, in America, it’s all about the money.

The relationship between these minority advocacy groups and the soda industry is strikingly similar to the relationship that most politicians have with oil companies – they don’t really support what they’re doing, but what can you say when these industries are pouring hundreds of thousands (and sometimes millions) of dollars into your pocket?

Of course, with the minority advocacy groups, the soda industry’s dollars are at least going to much better causes than just illegal perks for crooked politicians.

Many of the top soda companies have contributed huge amounts of money to scholarships for local chapters of the NAACP and funded programs for the National Hispanic Medical Association. Even more money has gone to conference for the National Hispana Leadership Institute and literacy classes that are offered by the National Puerto Rican Coalition.

Since Mayor Bloomberg’s administration plans on appealing the court’s decision, the fight against a sugary, drink ban is far from over and the soda industry will certainly need to call on the aid of the civil rights advocacy groups to keep their own message going strong.

The only question is: is it okay for these groups to be supporting the soda industry despite the way their products have impacted their children?

Well consider this. Does anyone really get fat, nonetheless obese, due to soft drinks alone?

How many slim, trim, athletic people have you caught sipping on a Mountain Dew or a Coke ever now and then?

It isn’t fair for us to pin our entire Nation’s obesity problem on the soda industry. In fact, it isn’t right for us to pin it on anybody. While they may be the one’s providing the products, as consumers we always have a choice about how often and how much we will buy those products. Even more, we have the right to choose how we will go about consuming the sugary drinks.

The minority advocacy groups have every right to put the value of their non-profit organizations over a soda ban that may or may not combat some obesity problems in their neighborhood. The real change that needs to happen has to come in the form of better lifestyle choices and lots of exercise, and let’s be honest – that isn’t the soda industry’s responsibility.

As for the judge who struck down the soda ban on Monday, he found the proposal to be “arbitrary and capricious” because it would not treat all sugary beverages the same nor would it be applied equally to all establishments.

While the fight for anti-obesity laws is sure to rage on, it is safe to say that a new ban or tax on soft drinks isn’t very likely to happen.


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