Coca-Cola has teamed up with scientists to promote physical activity as a solution to chronic disease and obesity. Health experts say the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages is attempting to “deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes,” according to a report by the New York Times.
Coca-Cola is working with prominent scientists with hopes that academia will publish articles in journals, social media, and speak at conferences in order to shift the attention of Americans fixation in losing weight to focus more on exercise, rather than about how much they consume and calorie intake.
Coca-Cola is providing financial support to a non-profit group called Global Energy Balance Network.
The organization’s vice president, Steven N. Blair, an exercise scientist, says the following about the newly funded group.
“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.”
Health experts claim Coca-Cola is using the new organization to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet regardless of evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people eat or drink.
Michele Simon, a public health lawyer, offered her thoughts about Coca-Cola’s recent investment in shifting the public’s attention.
“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. This is a direct response to the ways that the company is losing. They’re desperate to stop the bleeding.”
According to the New York Times, Coca-Cola made a substantial investment in Global Energy Balance Network.
“In response to requests based on state open-records laws, two universities that employ leaders of the Global Energy Balance Network disclosed that Coke had donated $1.5 million last year to start the organization.”
Records indicate that Global Energy Balance Network is registered in the headquarters of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.
The New York Times obtained the following statement by Coca-Cola supporting scientific research related to its beverages and topics such as energy balance.
“We partner with some of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and physical activity. It’s important to us that the researchers we work with share their own views and scientific findings, regardless of the outcome, and are transparent and open about our funding.”
The Coca-Cola social media campaign promoting physical activity as a solution to chronic disease and obesity, and for the most part, the company’s silence pertaining to the role of food and nutrition, is not doing as well as expected.
Nonetheless, Coca-Cola believes exercise and a balanced diet are keys to good help.
Coca-Cola started an initiative in Chicago, a clear example of what the company is trying to do while promoting exercise and addressing global obesity.
“Reversing the obesity trend won’t happen overnight. But for thousands of families in Chicago, it starts now, with the next push-up, a single sit-up, or a jumping jack.”
[Featured image via Amy Sussman / Getty Images for The Coca Cola Company]