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A prominent DC-area pastor has filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, claiming soda manufacturers knowingly deceived customers about the health risks of sugar-sweetened beverages — at enormous cost to their communities, reports the Washington Post.
William Lamar, the senior pastor at D.C.’s historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, is tired of the affects of sugar on his community and has decide to step up and do something about it.
Lamar’s complaint, which was filed in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday, is done so at the behest of the Praxis Project, a public health group, alleges that Coke and the ABA ran an intentional campaign to confuse consumers about the causes of obesity, explained WaPo. He and Delman Coates, the pastor at Maryland’s Mount Ennon Baptist Church, claim that the marketing campaigns from the organizations have made it more difficult for them to protect the health of all their parishioners.
WaPo reports that a similar lawsuit was filed, and later withdrawn, by the same legal team in California last January. The report also explains that this is a large shift by minority communities who are usually seen as allies to the Big Soda industry, even despite overwhelming evidence that the harms of drinking soda impact their communities disproportionately.
“It’s become really clear to me that we’re losing more people to the sweets than to the streets,” said Coates, according to WaPo. “There’s a great deal of misinformation in our communities, and I think that’s largely a function of these deceptive marketing campaigns.”
Coca-Cola has responded to the lawsuit:
“The allegations here are likewise legally and factually meritless, and we will vigorously defend against them,” the statement said. “The Coca-Cola Company understands that we have a role to play in helping people reduce their sugar consumption.”