Coca-Cola paid millions to fund ‘bad diets not cause of obesity’ study

Coca-Cola found funding millions to scientists who say weight loss is more about exercise and less about the diet

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Beverage giant Coca-Cola has been exposed for paying millions of dollars to fund a non-profit group that argues a bad diet is not the cause for obesity, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Coca-Cola, who is the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing the new science-based research which states that to maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories, the report added.


To help scientist spread this message, Coca-Cola provided financial support to the Global Energy Balance Network, the non-profit organization, which promotes the idea that people are overly focused on how much they eat.

Infographic: Coca-Cola controversy

Infographic: Coca-Cola controversy
Infographic: Coca-Cola controversy

“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,” said Steven N. Blair, vice president of the group, known as the Global Energy Balance Network, in a video. “And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”

Two universities that employ heads of the Global Energy Balance Network told the New York Times that Coca-Cola donated $1.5 million last year to start the organization, and that since 2008 the company had provided almost four million dollars in funding for various other projects to two of the organization’s founding members.

However health experts are questioning Coca-Cola’s motives.

“The Global Energy Balance Network is nothing but a front group for Coca-Cola,” Marion Nestle, author of the book Soda Politics and a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, told the Times. “Coca-Cola’s agenda here is very clear: Get these researchers to confuse the science and deflect attention from dietary intake.”

This isn’t the first time Coca-Cola has tried to send out a message that its products are healthier than popular belief.

Last year, the American Beverage Association, which represents Coke and Pepsi, published a report that suggested diet soda could aid in weight loss, a result that’s been rebutted elsewhere.

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