Integrative Nutrition Blog

Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Say Junk Food Doesn’t Cause Obesity

August 10, 2015

Image via Mejini Neskah / Shutterstock.com

If someone told you it’s more important to exercise than worry about how much junk you eat or drink, would you stop and pause? What if it was a study in a reputable scientific journal? 

If it sounds suspicious, that’s because it very well might be.  

A recent article in the New York Times details that Coca-Cola has partnered with a team of influential scientists to deemphasize the influence of fast food and sugary drinks on the obesity epidemic. The beverage giant is providing significant financial and logistical support to help get the word out in medical journals, at conferences, and through social media. 

Last year, Coke donated $1.5 million to start Global Energy Balance Network, a new nonprofit that says there’s “no compelling evidence” that soda is a cause of obesity. Coke has provided nearly $4 million in funding to two of the nonprofit’s founding members. Though the scientists of the organization insist there is nothing shady about the affiliation, the nonprofit’s website is registered to Coca-Cola headquarters. 

In one recent release, the nonprofit stated: “The media tends to blame the obesity epidemic on poor eating habits. But are those French fries really the culprit?” 

If this sounds terrible, the good news is that Coke is reacting to a very heartening development: in the past 20 years, the consumption of full-calorie soda has dropped by 25 percent. People are changing their eating habits for the better, and there have been some major wins – early childhood obesity rates are finally declining! 

But that’s hurting the bottom line of soda and fast food companies, and this push is just one way for them to try to recoup their losses. 

Of course no one is denying the impact of a sedentary lifestyle on our expanding waistlines – getting exercise on a regular basis is essential. But it’s irresponsible to state that soda has any place in a healthy diet. 

We have over 100 different visiting teachers at Integrative Nutrition representing a wide variety of perspectives – from vegan to paleo and high-carb to low-carb. There’s not much they agree on, but the recommendation to “stop drinking soda” is near universal common ground. 

Integrative Nutrition visiting teacher Marion Nestle was blunt about this news: “The Global Energy Balance Network is nothing but a front group for Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola’s agenda here is very clear: Get these researchers to confuse the science and deflect attention from dietary intake.” 

So what can you do? Start with one of IIN Founder Joshua Rosenthal’s favorite pieces of wisdom: question what you’re told. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 

Though unfortunately you can’t always trust every study that you see in the headlines, you can trust yourself if you dig deeper and reach conclusions for yourself. 

That’s exactly what our curriculum empowers you to do – sort through the facts, think critically, and find what works for you. Then share this knowledge with friends, family members, colleagues, and clients and encourage them to do the same – that’s what we mean when we talk about the ripple effect! 

What are your thoughts on this news? Do you think soda is most responsible for the obesity epidemic? What other factors are there to consider? Let us know in the comments section below!  

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