Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 22nd 2015 Contents Coke to disclose details
on its health efforts
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, August 22, 2015
Coca-Cola says it will start publishing information
about its health and nutrition efforts after it was
criticized for funding a group that many felt touted
the company s message.
On Wednesday evening, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar
Kent said in an editorial published in The Wall Street
Journal that he was disappointed that the company s
actions have created "more confusion and mistrust."
Moving forward, he said the company will publish
"a list of health and well-being partnerships and
research activities" the company has funded in the
past five years. That information will be updated
every six months, he said.
The Atlanta-based company came under fire after
a New York Times story on August 9 that detailed
how Coca-Cola Co gave US$1.5 million to help start
the Global Energy Balance Network. The story said
the group promotes the idea that people are overly
fixated on how much they re eating, rather than how
In a video announcing the group, Steven Blair, a
professor at the University of South Carolina and
vice president of the network, noted the media focuses
on "eating too much, eating too much, eating too
much---blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks,
and so on. And there s really virtually no compelling
evidence that that, in fact, is the cause."
Later in the video, Blair said people are getting
fatter, but that the "we don t really know the cause,
other than, well, too many people are eating more
calories than they burn on too many days. But maybe
the reason they re eating more calories than they
need is because they re not burning many."
Yoni Freedhoff, a nutrition and obesity expert at
the University of Ottawa, said that it has become
common for food companies to deflect criticism
about their products by talking about the need for
" Energy balance is a term that the food industry
has been using for a while," he said.
Freedhoff learned about the group after noticing
Coca-Cola s chief science and health officer mention
it on Twitter. When he went to the group s Web site,
however, Freedhoff said he couldn t find information
on its funding source.
That information was posted soon after he pointed
out the oversight to the group, Freedhoff said.
A disclosure at the bottom of the group s "About"
page now states that it gets support from various
entities, including an "unrestricted grant from The
After the New York Times ran its story, the network
said in a statement that the suggestion that its work
promotes "the idea that exercise is more important
than diet in addressing obesity vastly oversimplifies
this complex issue."
Coca-Cola also published a piece on its Web site
by its chief technical officer, Ed Hays, calling the
story s portrayal of the company "inaccurate." Hays
dismissed the idea Coca-Cola funds research to con-
vince people that "diets don t matter."
A representative for Coca-Cola said the company
expects to release the first wave of information on
its health and wellness efforts "within the next few
weeks." The company said it will also post information
about its work with individuals.
Earlier this year, The Associated Press reported
that Coca-Cola worked with multiple health experts
who wrote online posts for American Hearth Month
in February, with each including a mini-Coke or
other soda as a snack idea. At the time, Coca-Cola
said it wanted to help people "make decisions that
are right for them." Like others in the industry, it
said the company
release the first
its health and
"within the next
few weeks." The
company said it
will also post
about its work
said it works with experts to "bring context
to the latest facts and science around our
products and ingredients."
In addition to outlining such relationships,
Coca-Cola said it will form an oversight
committee of independents experts to advise
it on investments on academic research.
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