Soda costs practically nothing to produce or buy – yet has turned its makers into a multibillion-dollar industry with global recognition, distribution, and political power.
“If you will grant me a slight exaggeration, we can assume that enough sugary soda is produced in America to provide every person – from newborn babies to the oldest old – with about one 12-ounce can or bottle every day,” writes Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and author of Soda Politics and the popular blog Food Politics.
However, soda is known to contribute to poor dental hygiene, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, not only harming individual health, but also burdening societies with significant healthcare costs. So how did products containing inexpensive ingredients become a multibillion-dollar industry and international brand icons, while also having a devastating impact on public health?
In Soda Politics (Oxford University Press, 2015), Nestle answers this question by detailing the ways that the soda industry works overtime to make drinking soda as common and accepted as drinking water. But now, advocates are successfully countering their marketing, promotion, and political protection, with health advocacy campaigns becoming the single greatest threat to soda companies’ profits.
Update: Soda Politics was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Writing and Literature in April 2016. Congratulations to Marion Nestle!