Coca-Cola and its trade association are being sued for allegedly lying to the public and embarking on an unlawful campaign to discredit the science linking soft drinks to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The suit was filed by the Praxis Project, on behalf of the non-profit US organisation, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
“From the 1950s until the late 1990s, the tobacco industry engaged in an elaborate campaign of disinformation to cast doubt on the science connecting cigarettes to lung cancer and other diseases,” Ms Maia Kats, litigation director for the centre, said.
“Today the soda industry is engaged in its own campaign of disinformation to cast doubt on the science connecting sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity, and obesity-related diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
The American Beverage Association (ABA) is funded by Coca-Cola and other soft-drink manufacturers, and has previously lobbied the US government against regulation that would limit soft drink consumption.
The health advocacy group said they hoped the lawsuit would stop the organisations from deceiving the public on the science underlying the negative health effects.
In the lawsuit, the Praxis Project points to “false and deceptive statements” made by officials at Coca-Cola and researchers at the ABA about sugar-sweetened drinks.
They allege that the company paid dietitians to promote the products as a healthy option, with some likening a can of Coke to a healthy snack, such as a pack of almonds.