Today, the New York Times Editorial Board weighed in on the Global Energy Balance Network controversy in a fantastic and hard-hitting op-ed titled “Coke Tries to Sugarcoat the Truth on Calories”.
- “Coke and other beverage makers have long funneled money to industry-leaning scientists and formed innocent-sounding front groups to spread the message that sugary sodas have no deleterious effect on health and should not be taxed or regulated.”
- “The beverage industry in general, and Coca-Cola in particular, have suffered from public health campaigns against sugar-sweetened beverages. Since the late 1990s, the amount of full-calorie soda drunk by the average American has dropped 25 percent, from 40 gallons a year in 1998 to 30 gallons in 2014. As calorie consumption from beverages and other foods plummeted, obesity rates stopped rising for adults and school-age children and came down for the youngest children.”
- “That poses potential financial problems for Coca-Cola. In its 2014 annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company cited a multitude of risk factors that could adversely affect its business. First on the list was “obesity concerns” that could cause consumers to stop drinking sugary sodas, lead governments to impose new taxes or regulations and prompt lawsuits, actions which could “adversely affect our profitability.”
- “The industry has used a variety of tactics to spread its message — providing speakers for conventions or educational courses of dietitians and nutritionists, financing the research of like-minded scientists, and deploying armies of lobbyists to persuade cities, states and Congress not to crack down on sugary drinks. In a particularly brazen move, Coca-Cola paid dietitians to write blog posts or articles in February suggesting that a mini-can of Coke would make a good snack food. A mini-can of Coke contains 7½ ounces and has 90 calories. A regular 12-ounce can has 140 calories.”
- “Meanwhile, the evidence continues to mount that sugar-sweetened drinks are a major contributor to obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and that exercise makes only a modest contribution to weight loss compared to ingesting fewer calories.”
At this point, we can’t help but wonder how many more examples of Coca-Cola battling public health and distorting health messages the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics needs to reconsider its long-standing partnership with the soda giant.