Coca-Cola Behind Organization Shifting Blame for Obesity Away From Their Products
On Sunday, the New York Times “Well” blog revealed that Coca-Cola invested $1.5m last year to found the Global Energy Balance Network. This non-profit organization’s raison d’être appears to be advocating the scientifically dubious contention that the worldwide obesity epidemic is caused more by lack of exercise than high caloric consumption.
Health experts say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. They contend that the company is using the new group to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume.
“Coca-Cola’s sales are slipping, and there’s this huge political and public backlash against soda, with every major city trying to do something to curb consumption,” said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer. “This is a direct response to the ways that the company is losing. They’re desperate to stop the bleeding.”
Obviously, the natural comparison is with the way big tobacco paid scientists and otherwise obfuscated the dangers of cigarettes. Purchasing scientists was a novel way for that industry to buy itself several more decades of high profitability during the last century, but now the practice has become so commonplace it is almost unremarkable. It has certainly become a regular tactic of those who seek to deny climate change. In recent years it has also been used by the fossil fuel industry to defend fracking and by the pharmaceutical industry to demonize marijuana in an effort to protect their lucrative (and deadly) painkiller business.
This is not even close to the first time health and nutritional science has been poisoned by this hateful practice. Two and a half years ago, I paged a story about the largest association of American nutritionists accepting a ridiculous amount of funding from the multinational food industry. At that time I was considering a career shift toward becoming qualified as a dietician, but the realization that the industry is now hopelessly corrupt changed my mind.
The current situation in which this kind of thing has become an accepted business practice benefits corporations and literally nobody else on earth. We are quickly reaching the point where ALL science is going to be suspect in the absence of full financial disclosure.