NEW YORK — Coke is funding a health research organization that shifts blame away from sugary soda drinks as a cause of obesity.
Coca-Cola donated $1.5 million last year to start a nonprofit research organization that questions the role soda and fast food play in weight gain, according to the New York Times.
The Global Energy Balance Network pushes the idea that Americans are too focused on what they eat, and not focused enough on exercise. The organization’s web site is registered to the Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta, according to the Times.
The organization has an online video depicting a fit-looking coach-potato eating Pringles (a product of Kellogg’s) while watching TV. The video pans over bottles of what appear to be Coke and Sprite (both products of Coca-Cola) as a professor makes his case. The video identifies him as Steve Bair of the Department of Exercise Science at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.
“Most of the focus in the popular media and 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,” he said.
The video also shows somebody slicing a bell pepper, and then someone playing tennis.
“Maybe the reason they’re eating more calories than they need is because they’re not burning any,” said Bair.
Coca-Cola released a statement that the company “has a long history of supporting evidence-based scientific research relating to our beverages.” The company said it provides support in “an appropriate manner” and will “continue to support scientific research public-private partnerships.”
“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,” said the company.