Coca-Cola Admits Spending on Sham Health Research

Coca-Cola has disclosed that the company spent $118.6 million in scientific research and partnerships over the last five years.

Last month, a front-page article in The New York Times uncovered the financial ties between the world’s largest beverage maker and the Global Energy Balance Network.

The Global Energy Balance Network publicizes the idea that people fuss too much over diet instead of simply exercising more.

Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola’s CEO, responded by publishing an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Kent pledged to be more transparent about the company’s funding of health programs.

The disclosure has revealed that Coca-Cola invested nearly $21.8 million in scientific research. The company also spent $ 96.8 million in what it calls “health and well-being partnerships.” The latter refers to money paid to dieticians and supplement companies for promoting pro-soda views.

Recipients of Coca-Cola’s money include the Obesity Society, the American Diabetes Association and a dietician who promoted “refreshing beverage options such as a mini can of Coca-Cola” as part of the American Heart Month.

coca cola drawing

The company also made grant contributions of more than one million dollars each to University of South Carolina, Louisiana State University and Emory University. Other beneficiaries include Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, the National Park Foundation, the YMCA, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the American Cancer Society.

Public health critics have long pointed out that sugary drinks are to blame for the country’s obesity epidemic. According to a study, in2014, not even a single state had an obesity rate of less than 20 percent. This is in sharp opposition to the data collected in 1997 when no state had an obesity rate of over 20 percent.

Coca-Cola North America’s president, Sandy Douglas, has divulged plans of visiting several public-health groups in the next few weeks as part of “a listening tour.”

The company wants to ensure that future funding “is both helpful and credible.” In an interview, Douglas, said that becoming “transparent” about the company’s funding efforts was “a first step” towards achieving this goal.

Coca-Cola’s website will now allow visitors to get in-depth details about the company’s funding efforts in US health and fitness research and partnerships starting January 2010.

Khuram Aziz
Khurram Aziz is a freelance writer based out of London, England.