The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) and American Association for Dental Research (AADR) are divesting sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) companies from their investment portfolios. While the organizations did not have direct investments in such companies, they have changed to investment managers who will screen out any holdings in the sector. The IADR and AADR already exclude tobacco companies from their investments.
The organizations note that sugars are the most important dietary factor in the development of dental caries. They also call SSBs a major source of dietary sugars that lack nutritional value and contribute to caries as well as unhealthy weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Investing in companies that manufacture or distribute such products or funds that have such holdings is inconsistent with the organizations’ missions, they say, which are to advance research and increase knowledge for the improvement of oral health worldwide.
“There is robust research that identifies free sugars as a major cause of dental caries, and sugar-sweetened beverages are a major source of free sugars and are linked to a number of non-communicable diseases,” said AADR president Maria Emanuel Ryan. “The initiative to remove all investments in sugar-sweetened beverage companies matches IADR/AADR’s previous divestment of tobacco stocks and more clearly embodies our investment philosophy and health-based values.”
The IADR and AADR call on other health-related professional associations with investment portfolios to adopt similar policies regarding SSB companies.