Coca-Cola Funds Researchers Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages is backing research that supports a new “science-based” approach to the fight against obesity – exercise more and worry less about cutting calories. Last year, Coca-Cola Co provided as much as $1.5 million to a non-profit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) for its launch.

In a recent video announcing the organization, GEBN’s vice president Steven N. Blair says,

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.”

GEBN’s website states that it is a “newly formed, voluntary public-private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to identifying and implementing innovative solutions – based on the science of energy balance – to prevent and reduce diseases associated with inactivity, poor nutrition, and obesity.” A group of scientists at GEBN is advancing this message through social media, at conferences, and in medical journals.

GEBN is just one part of Coca-Cola’s initiatives to fund various projects with similar objectives. Since 2008, the industry giant has given nearly $4 million to the efforts of GEBN’s founding members, despite declining soda sales.

The concept of energy balance maintains that calories or energy consumed by a person should be the same amount of calories that the body uses through metabolism. By this logic, one can lose weight by expending more calories than one consumes.

Many health experts say this research may be deceptive. While people can lose weight in several ways, many studies suggest that those who can keep it off consume fewer calories and limit their intake of high glycemic foods such as sugary drinks and other refined carbohydrates.

In one study published in the journal Obesity, scientists gathered 200 overweight, sedentary adults and put them on an aggressive exercise program without making any changes to their diets. After one year of exercising for five to six hours a week, men had lost an average of 3.5 pounds and women 2.5 pounds.

Lead author of the study Dr. Ann McTiernan remarks,

“Adding exercise to a diet program helps. But for weight loss, you’re going to get much more impact with diet changes.”

Read more here- “Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets,” (Anahad O’Connor, The New York Times)

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Mackenzie is a Marketing Fellow and a rising junior at Villanova University. She is planning to co-major in Marketing and Finance and minor in Business Entrepreneurship. As a part of her studies, she has created and presented a comprehensive marketing plan to professionals from The Vanguard Group featuring Vanguard's exchange-traded funds.

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