Coca Cola throws its weight into obesity research

Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres Aug 10, 2015
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Coca Cola throws its weight into obesity research

Kai Ryssdal and Tommy Andres Aug 10, 2015
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In recent years there’s been a backlash against sugar, and sugary drinks in particular, because they are a contributing factor to obesity. This is bad news for the soda industry. The New York Times’ Anahad O’Connor reports on how Coca Cola has gained influence in obesity research.

Coca Cola is a funder of the Global Energy Balance Network, whose researchers’ “goal is to increase awareness of the energy balance equation.” They believe that “people are not focused enough on physical activity, because they believe sedentary behavior is a huge driver of obesity,” O’Connor explains.  

So … does this mean the group is recommending we drink as much soda as we want? Not quite, but O’Connor says that “they say that the way to maintain a healthy, stable body weight is not reducing calorie and food intake, as many public health experts would argue, but is to actually eat more and exercise more.”

This funding by Coca Cola comes at a time when soda sales are declining. “The food industry is scrambling. They see the writing on the wall,” O’Connor says.

The critics of this research think of the Global Energy Balance Network as more of an advocacy group for Coca Cola. “When I reached out to several independent obesity experts who don’t take food industry funding, they all said the same thing,” O’Connor explains. “In their words, they said, ‘This is a front group for Coca Cola.’”

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