The New York Times has now covered the ties between new Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald and Coca-Cola.
* “Her new position puts her at the helm of a federal agency that shook off its ties to the soda giant, in 2013, after concluding Coke’s mission was at odds with its own. But Dr. Fitzgerald suggested in an email response to questions from The New York Times this past week that she would consider accepting Coke money for C.D.C. programs and would evaluate any proposal through the agency’s standard review process.”
* “The [Georgia SHAPE] program [Dr. Fitzgerald ran] emphasized Coke’s longtime contention that exercise is the key to weight loss. A search of the program’s website turned up no mention of the role of sugary drinks and sodas in weight gain. The company has spent millions on studies that support exercise over reducing soda consumption, and that, critics say, deflect attention from the role sugar-sweetened beverages have played in the soaring rate of obesity and the spread of Type 2 diabetes among children.”
* “We’re going to concentrate on what you should eat,” Dr. Fitzgerald said in a television appearance, making no recommendation for what children should not eat. But the major focus was on increasing exercise, long a tenet of Coke’s public relations efforts. In fact, an essay on the topic by Dr. Fitzgerald is posted on Coke’s website. The title: “Solving Childhood Obesity Requires Movement.”
* “Industry funding of obesity initiatives can undermine the mission and integrity of public health agencies,” said Jonathan H. Marks, director of the bioethics program at Penn State University and an expert in food industry philanthropy. “It can also burnish the reputation of corporate sponsors, and increase brand loyalty for the very products that are contributing to the problems the agencies are trying to solve.”
* “Coke has a very strong presence in Atlanta and has been a good corporate citizen for many years,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who resigned as director of the C.D.C. at the end of the Obama administration, after eight years. But soon after Dr. Frieden took on the job, he started winding down Coke-funded programs. “I don’t think it’s justifiable to have Coca-Cola run an obesity campaign that had an exclusive focus on physical activity,” Dr. Frieden said. “I basically canceled it and didn’t renew it or have more grant agreements with them.”