The soda industry has exerted a not-so-subtle influence on the health industry, donating to nearly 100 groups ranging from the American Diabetes Association to Save the Children, researchers reported Monday. The researchers urged health organizations to just say no to money from the soda lobby — saying it looks bad at best, and at worst can exert strong pressure on groups that might otherwise act to reduce unhealthy sugar consumption. Cans of soda are displayed in a case at Kwik Stops Liquor in San Diego, California on February 13, 2014. SAM HODGSON / Reuters, file “From 2011 to 2015, the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo were found to sponsor a total of 96 national health organizations, including many medical and public health institutions whose specific missions include fighting the obesity epidemic,” Daniel Aaron and Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University wrote in their report, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. “During the study period, these two soda companies lobbied against 29 public health bills intended to reduce soda consumption or improve nutrition.” Just last month, a different team of researchers found that sugar lobbyists funded research that underplayed the role of sugar in heart disease, and said the tactics were similar to those used by the tobacco industry to downplay the health risks of smoking. “By accepting funding from these companies, health organizations are inadvertently participating in their marketing plans,” Aaron and Siegel wrote. “Now, most organizations refuse tobacco money. Perhaps soda companies should be treated similarly.” Philadelphia passed a sugary drink tax in June and other cities are discussing the possibility. Studies show taxes can reduce consumption of bad-for-you products such as sweet drinks and tobacco. Added sugar in the diet is very clearly linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But the sugar industry has thrown up a range of arguments against any legislation that might cut consumption, from consumer freedom and choice to debates over what “sugar” means. “Now, most organizations refuse tobacco money. Perhaps soda companies should be treated similarly.” “Health and medical