Coca-Cola Is Funding Science That Questions The Connection Between Obesity & Poor Diet

Photo: Jussi Nukari/Rex/REX USA.
Coca-Cola has a message for people who are hoping to lose a few pounds: Don't worry so much about what you eat or drink.

The beverage company was recently linked to a group of scientists who are pushing forth the theory that maintaining a healthy body is about working out and being less concerned with calories — a convenient message coming from the number-one producer and distributor of sugary drinks on the planet.

According to The New York Times, Coca-Cola has helped these scientists spread their message by providing funding and support to the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), a new nonprofit organization that claims Americans are wrongfully prioritizing nutrition over attention to exercise.

"It’s very clear that around the world, the populations are getting fatter. The big problem is we don’t really know the cause, other than, well, too many people are eating more calories than they burn on too many days," Steven Blair, PED — a professor of exercise science and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health who is affiliated with GEBD — said in a video on ShareWik.

Dr. Blair goes on to explain how the focus on diet specifically is contributing to the obesity epidemic. "Maybe the reason they’re eating more calories than they need is because they’re not burning many," he goes on. "So we need to be in balance. We need to be in energy balance and at a healthy level, which means getting a proper amount of physical activity."

In a comment to the Times, Dr. Blair and the other scientists asserted that Coca-Cola was not controlling their messaging or shaping the work they are doing. But it's not hard to imagine why the soda giant would want to align with GEBN. The organization's agenda has a resounding implication for Coke's bottom line — and, especially as soda taxes and healthy-eating initiatives make their way across the U.S., the beverage giant needs allies more than ever. As of the time this piece was published, Coca-Cola had not returned outreach for comment on the subject.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over one-third of Americans (or 78.6 million individuals) are obese. And, while physical activity is key to maintaining muscle as well as building strength and tone, it has long been common knowledge that — typically — the path to slimming down involves a combination of exercise and watching what you eat, via portion control and balanced dietary choices. The suggestion that sedentary lifestyle alone contributes to obesity seems like a major oversight in terms of how the human body and metabolism work.

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