Since the rise of multinational corporations and big business, there has been an increased emphasis on corporate social responsibility and ethical behavior. Corporate social responsibility refers to a company’s responsibility to act in a way that has a positive effect on legal, ethical, and economic and social aspects, while maintaining its’ duty to increase shareholders wealth (Dorfman, Cheyne, Friedman, Wadud, & Gottlieb, 2012). Companies must also employ good ethics—operating in a way that is morally good and that benefits all who are affected by its actions. I believe that any organization that effects consumers around the world are morally obligated to do what is right because they affect such a large amount of people. With such great influence, companies must make decisions that will not produce catastrophic outcomes.
The carbonated beverage industry is one that has—in recent decades—gained negative attention due to the health issues that are arising in youth and people worldwide as a result of its consumptions. According to the article by Warner, “the rate of sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption by children has increased in parallel with child obesity in the past 30 years (Warner, Harley, Bradman, Vargas, & Eskenazi, 2006). Fingers are being pointed at soft drink producers who purposely market to young children in effort to get them hooked on the product despite evidence proving that it is causes numerous health issues.
Soft Drinks Contribute to Childhood Obesity
Carbonated-beverages (also referred to as “sodas”) rose to popularity during the late 1800s and since then have been consumed by billions globally. Multinational corporations such as the Coca-Cola Company and Pepsi Cola are prominent leaders in the industry. Although these companies have contributed to meaningful programs and charities, this does not negate the negative impact that their products have on the population. For companies that have as large a reach as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, they have an ethical obligation to inform their consumers of the dangerous effects of consuming soda products and identifying the chemicals in their products.
According to the same article, “overweight children are at increased risk for many health problems including diabetes, abnormal glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, and altered lipid profiles as well as psychosocial consequences [and] overweight children are at significantly increased risk for adult obesity” (Warner, et al., 2006, p. 1967). Soft drinks are typically involved in adolescent’s diets and are the main reason for added sugar (Warner, et al., 2006). To combat the effects of the obesity crisis, multinational companies are employing “elaborate and expensive” corporate social responsibility campaigns to (Dorfman, et al., 2012). These companies are aiming their campaigns at the younger generation who is most affected by obesity. Although these types of campaigns are beneficial they do not suffice as they encourage consumers to become more active but do not warn against the dangers consuming the soft drink.
Globally, childhood obesity has been cited as “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century, [and] from 1977 to 2004 U.S. children more than doubled their caloric intake from [soda], in 2004 they received 13% of their caloric intake from [soda]” (Dorfman, et al., 2012, p. 2). Any company that has the ability to impact individuals on a global scale must behave ethically, because of its influence. Although I do believe some industries are often unfairly targeted (the tobacco industry) this is only because of the dangerous effects of their products. I believe that it is the responsibility of soda companies to inform consumers of the dangers of consuming soda products. However, ultimately it is the consumer’s choice to partake in the products that are not healthy, but they should have access to information about the products that they are consuming.
Warner, M. L., Harley, K., Bradman, A., Vargas, G., & Eskenazi, B. (2006). Soda consumption
and overweight status of 2-year-old mexican-american children in california: Obesity,
14(11), 1966-1974. doi:10.1038/oby.2006.230
Dorfman, L., Cheyne, A., Friedman, C. L. Wadud, A., Gottlieb, M. (2012). Soda and Tobacco
Industry Corporate Social Responsibility Campaigns: How Do They Compare? PLOS