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Home > Health Topics > Podcasts > Dr. Walker Protests Medical Group's Partnership with Coca-Cola

Dr. Walker Protests Medical Group's Partnership with Coca-Cola

October 29, 2009

William Walker, MD
Contra Costa Health Services

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See our Press Conference video for more information.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recently took a troubling step to partner with the Coca-Cola Company. Together, they plan to create educational materials that show the public how sugary drinks fit into a healthy diet.

Hello, I am Dr. William Walker, the county health officer and director of Contra Costa Health Services. I'd like to talk about why I am so concerned by this unhealthy partnership.

Some of you remember the 1940s and 50s when physicians were used to promote tobacco smoking. Then came the Surgeon General's warning that smoking was harmful to your health.

When we began to discover that the tobacco industry was deceiving us into thinking that smoking was safe, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association all stepped up in leadership roles to alert us to the dangers of secondhand smoke— and deceptive advertising.

These respectable organizations joined our efforts at the local level to protect our residents. They worked side by side with us for years, helping pass laws and teaching communities about the problem.

I would expect no less than that kind of leadership From the American Academy of Family Physicians, an organization I've proudly belonged to for 25 years.

This disheartening move has caused me to cancel my membership. I would expect this association to join doctors like me in the latest epidemic we are facing: obesity.

As a practicing family physician of more than 30 years, I have seen firsthand how the consumption of sugary drinks affects a person's health. These drinks are major contributors to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Companies like Coca-Cola actively encourage our children down this unhealthy path.

According to a recent study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, nearly two-thirds of youths aged 12 to 17 drink one or more sugary drinks per day. That is the same as drinking 39 pounds of sugar per year.

If current trends continue, experts say as many as one out of every five children today will develop type II diabetes.

The American Academy of Family Physicians should join us in leading this important campaign to take back the health of our residents and end the obesity epidemic.

In Contra Costa, public health officials have worked hard to promote healthy food and drink choices. Next time you're in the store, read the label and look at the ingredients. Instead of soda, choose water, juice and milk. Make the healthy choice for yourself and your family.

Thanks for listening.

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