Prestigious medical journal The Lancet weighs in on Coca-Cola’s funding of health research and partnerships.
The editorial makes two important points:
- “With the substantial burden of [chronic] diseases, medical organizations and health researchers are exposing themselves to potential conflicts of interest by accepting funding from food and beverage manufacturers because of the known role of regular consumption of sugary, energy-dense beverages in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.”
- “Ultimately, the goals of Coca-Cola and those of medical organizations and health researchers that wish to improve public health are very different. Moreover, medical health professionals must guard against any possible conflict or perceived conflict when working towards the overarching goal of improving public health and preventing non-communicable diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.”
We think it is important to add that while Coca-Cola’s partnerships have gotten the most press, it is important for health organizations to recognize that these conflicts don’t just appear with companies that sell soft drinks. Similar conflicts arise with companies that sell products that do not promote health, including — but not limited to — processed meats, sugary cereals, and confectionery.
What is at play here is not the “demonization” of foods, but rather the recognition that companies that sell unhealthy products and actively lobby against public health are not appropriate sponsors for health organizations.
We are still quite a ways from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics leadership acknowledging the importance of better sponsorship, so editorials like this one in prestigious journals are always welcomed.