Dec 3, 2015

Anti-obesity group with ties to Coca-Cola disbanding; group has promoted drinking soda

Anti-obesity group with ties to Coca-Cola disbanding; group has promoted drinking soda
An anti-obesity group with ties to Coca-Cola is disbanding over scrutiny that the group's views were heavily influenced by the soda manufacturer, reports The Associated Press. The nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network, which promotes the argument that weight-conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise, "said on its website Monday night that it is 'discontinuing operations due to resource limitations.' The decision was effective immediately."

Global Energy, which in August released a Coke-funded obesity report that said people should keep drinking soda, "had previously said that it received an 'unrestricted gift' from Coke and that the Atlanta-based soft drink giant had 'no input' into its activities," reports AP. Last week AP "reported on emails showing that Coke helped with the selection of the group's leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested content for its website. When contacted about the exchanges, Coke CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement there wasn't enough transparency regarding the company's involvement."

"The emails obtained by the AP through a records request showed Coke executives and the group's leaders held meetings and conference calls to develop the group's mission," reports AP. "A proposal circulated via email at Coke laid out a vision for a group that would 'quickly establish itself as the place the media goes to for comment on any obesity issue.' It said the group would run a political-style campaign to counter the 'shrill rhetoric' of 'public health extremists.'"

Americans' consuming large quantities of soda has been partially to blame for at least 30 percent of adults in 18 states—many of them rural—being obese. Consumption of full-calorie sodas by the average American has dropped by 25 percent in the past two decades, according to a report.