- Nutrition -

Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Blame Obesity on Lack of Exercise, Not Poor Diet

Such “science-backed” misinformation is part of the food industry’s PR campaigns to mislead the public on nutrition.

Coke-Can

Coca-Cola is concerned about your health. Putting its money behind those worries, the world’s largest manufacturer of soda pop is financing a cure for your obesity — a program designed to help you maintain a healthy weight by getting more exercise. Oh yes, and don’t worry about the food you’re eating or the sugary beverages you may be drinking along the way, the program reassures you.

Coke has poured millions into the nonprofit group Global Energy Balance Network and its members, the New York Times reported on August 9. The pop maker contributed $1.5 million last year to start GEBN, the newspaper noted. Since 2008, two founding members of GEBN have received close to $4 million to fund projects from Coca-Cola.

The nonprofit company is a “premier world-wide organization led by scientists working on the development and application of an evidence-based approach to ending obesity” headed by a group of nine scientists promoting a new “science-based” solution termed Energy Balance, as explained on the company’s website.

“Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh, they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks,” Global Energy’s vice president and exercise scientist Steven N. Blair, PED, FACSM, a professor in the departments of exercise science and epidemiology and biostatistics at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, stated in a recent video announcing the new organization.

Public-health initiatives such as this Coke-funded group are designed to lead consumers away from concerns about products by shifting the focus of their attention to other concerns, writes Michele Simon, JD, MPH, a public-health lawyer, president of corporate-watchdog consulting firm Eat Drink Politics, and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back.

And such water-muddying PR is nothing new, as Simon writes in Experience Life’s “Decoding Health Media,” her exposé of the food industry’s influence on what we all hear about nutrition. Hear more on such corporate tactics in Simon’s article and podcast.

Michael Dregni is Experience Life's managing editor.

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