A man carries a cooler as he passes giant bottles of Coca Cola on a beach in Cancun, Mexico on October 13, 2015.
Edgard Garrido / REUTERS

In the United States and Europe, junk food sales have precipitously declined since the late 1990s. Analysts have put the change up to greater health consciousness, increasing labor costs, decreasing purchasing power among the poor, new tastes among millennials, and the rise of “fast casual” dining options, among other market shifts. For their part, the soda and snack food companies, such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé, have turned to emerging markets to secure profits. And they are doing everything they can to keep their new markets pliable.

The soda and snack food industries are not just investing in franchises and vending machines in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, and India. They are also building political and social alliances that can help them deflect political opposition, duck public scrutiny, and avoid stiff regulations on the sale of their products.

Companies such as Coca-Cola and Nestlé have worked closely with health-care officials

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  • EDUARDO J. GÓMEZ is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Development at King’s College London. He is completing a book about the political influence of the junk food industry in developing nations.
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