Speaking of data and measurement

Coca-Cola's links of influence
Coca-Cola’s links of influence

Measuring the impact of initiatives aimed at reducing poverty, disease and other various manifestations of inequity is critical to success in the humanitarian sector — and saying so is highly fashionable these days among donors, government and other do-gooders.

But who is measuring the impact and effectiveness of the donors, government and do-gooders themselves? Here’s an interesting — if wonky — article in EpiAnalysis of the potentially problematic links between the soda pop industry and the global health community. The rationale for measuring the nature and influence of these links is that health experts now see many diseases caused by poor diet (diabetes, obesity, heart disease) as a major global health priority. Yet the industry arguably creating products that cause much of this is funding many of those who we would expect to be serving the interests of public health:

It is no longer a secret that the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of World Health Organization, accepts money from the Coca- Cola Company, PepsiCo, Kraft, Nestle, and Unilever. Similarly, some members of the WHO’s Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group have food industry ties, particularly in the form of receiving funding. But who else in the public sphere of governance is linked to “Big Soda”, and how?

Accepting money and allowing everyone into the room for the debate is not necessarily untoward. But the point of this analysis is that it’s important to know who has what influence and where. If you really want to go into deep wonk, look at the same authors academic paper in PLoS on conflicts of interest in global health. Below is the authors’ map of Coca-Cola’s sphere of influence:

Coca-Cola's links of influence
Coca-Cola’s links of influence



About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.

  • http://www.shackcopanis.com/ Shack Companis

    Interesting insight. Are there any studies of such linkages between health organisations and non-F&B companies (e.g. in the cosmetics & personal care industry) as well?