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Coca-Cola Subverts Science

Coca-Cola Subverts Science
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Crony science is on full display in the new partnership between the giant beverage company and a nonprofit looking to exonerate junk food in the obesity debate.
The New York Times reports that Coca-Cola is pouring millions of dollars into a nonprofit organization that is trying to promote a peculiar solution to the obesity crisis. The message of the newly formed Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) is simple: Americans are too focused on how much they eat and are neglecting proper exercise.
GEBN released a short video introducing the organization and its principles. The opening words from vice president Steven Blair are remarkable: “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, and so on. And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”
“No compelling evidence”? Really? Except if one happens to look here. Or here. Or here. And here. Our own articles have discussed the calamitous health consequences of sugary sodas and high fructose corn syrup here and here.
The Times reports that Coca-Cola donated $1.5 million to start the organization, in addition to backing two of the organization’s founding members with almost $4 million since 2008. The organization’s website is registered to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta. It wasn’t until GEBN was asked about its funding that it listed Coca-Cola as a sponsor on its website.
Its executive committee is comprised of people who are consultants with or have received grants from McCain Foods, McDonald’s, dairy lobbies, the American Beverage Association, Nestlé, Novo Nordisk, the Beef Council, Jenny Craig, Danone (Dannon), Kraft, numerous pharmaceutical companies, and of course Coca-Cola.
This is just another example of something we see all to frequently today: “science” backed by Big Food or Big Biotech that has less to do with proper nutrition or maintaining public health than with fattening their industrial coffers. We’ve seen this type of behavior repeatedly with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, most recently when they teamed up with Kraft to promote children’s health.
Of course other companies, including Big Pharma, play the same game. It is all part of today’s crony capitalism, in which special interests are subverting all of our institutions, including government—not to mention creating a revolving-door policy for officials to go from government positions to powerful industry jobs and back again. Standards of truth are disintegrating in a spreading tide of deception and corruption.
This most recent effort by Coca-Cola to hoodwink the public into thinking its sugary drinks have nothing to do with obesity is a reminder that we must always be cautious about taking “experts” at their word, and that we must always be looking for who is holding the purse strings.
Caveat emptor—buyer beware!

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