Tackling issues of public health through the lifespan: mental health, health reform, the obesity epidemic, family health, and general health policies.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Coca-Cola's Obesity Research Ends: Ethical True Science Wins
After FOUR years of not posting a single post (a very full time career and three very young children being the reason for the long sabbatical), I'm BACK! I just couldn't help but post after reading about the retirement of Coca-Cola's Chief Scientist.
Rhona Applebaum, who was Coke's chief science and health officer, helped lead the creation of a nonprofit obesity working group, the Global Energy Balance Network (G.E.B.N.) last year. Coke spent $1.5 million last year on starting this group and nearly $4 million since 2008 supporting projects for two of G.E.B.N's founding members, academics who study obesity. Interestingly, the funding and direction from Coke was to focus the group's work on exercise and physical activity to reduce obesity, and to reduce and minimize the emphasis on calories and sugar's role in obesity (to improve Coke's image, and dropping sales, of course).
And as described in an earlier (August) NY Times blog post, the Global Energy Balance Network's (G.E.B.N.) website is registered to Coca-Cola and they are the site administrator, because the other team members "didn't know how to set it up." And in email communication between the G.E.B.N. University of Colorado researcher Dr. James Hill and Coke execs, "...provide a strong rationale for why a company selling sugar water should focus on promoting physical activity. This would be a very large and expensive study, but could be a game changer. We need this study to be done.” Riiiiight; of course they need it to be done, because it means lots of [unethical] funding.
This is definitely a case of true, valid, ethically-produced science versus large corporations and profits. May science always win, science that is backed with ethical monies anyway. As shown in one of this post's images, "Honesty is the best policy." To give Coke some credit, there is more to the obesity problem than well, Coca-Cola, sugar, and calories. However, to shift (and fund) research 100% away from dietary intake and to other aspects (physical inactivity) is immoral, unethical, and flat-out wrong. It misleads the public and average consumer. What do you think about this controversy? What do you think are primary drivers of the obesity epidemic; and more importantly, what sources did you draw on to develop those opinions? Also, do you drink Coca-Cola?