Two pastors from Washington, D.C., have filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association saying the organizations have purposely deceived the public about sugar-sweetened beverages and their impact on health.
"The background of this lawsuit is that there's an epidemic of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a range of other degenerative diseases in the black and Latino communities, and really throughout America. For me, as a pastor, I see the toll it takes on families and children when they lose their parents much too soon," Delman Coates, the pastor at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, in Clinton, Maryland, told CBS News.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in D.C. Superior Court on behalf of Coates and William Lamar, the senior pastor at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.
"It is a matter of life and death in our communities," Lamar told CBS News.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012 research showed daily regular soda and fruit drink consumption was most common among black and Hispanic Americans.
Other studies have linked drinking sugary beverages to diabetes, heart disease, and higher death rates.
What's more, half of all African-Americans and 42 percent of Latinos are obese, compared to just over a third of whites in the U.S. Drinking soda from a young age was also found to be "a particularly strong predictor" of a future higher body mass index (BMI) for young black children, a 2016 study in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities reported.
"It breaks my heart and I'm saddened by the way in which we're losing so many people. I'm losing more people to the sweets than to the streets," Coates told CBS News.
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