Coca-Cola, much like every other multi-billion dollar corporation, seems to have questionable influence over almost everything.
Earlier this year, The New York Times revealed that the beverage giant reportedly donated million of dollars to a nonprofit group named Global Energy Balance Network. The so-called health institute claimed that weight-conscious people should pay more attention to exercise and less attention to their diet.
It also came to forefront that Coke not only paid $1.5 million to start the organization, but also funneled more than $4 million to the group’s founding members, Dr. Steven Blair and professor Gregory A. Hand.
The nonprofit, which was trying to promote the idea that physical exercise, rather than cutting down on calories, is the solution to end obesity in the United States, closed down soon after. However, it seems that the Coca-Cola funding scandal is nowhere near its end.
The company’s involvement in the scientific researches went way beyond the Global Energy Balance Network. Apparently, the corporate giant directly paid $550,000 to professor James Hill, a nutrition expert who works for the University of Colorado.
As The Denver Post reports, along with launching Global Energy Balance Network and accepting questionable money from the soft-drink giant, Hill and his wife traveled the world — notably Mexico, England, Australia and New Zealand — at company expense for speaking engagements. Moreover, he also solicited a job at the company for his son.
Interestingly, Coca-Cola also donated $1 million to the University of Colorado's prestigious Anschutz Health and Wellness Center as a private gift — which means that until the donor consented, the state law protected the entire transaction.
The health center has received more than $50 million in similar fashion from various corporations over past five years. There is a consensus that the research conducted there and the studies they have published support the perspectives of its corporate donors.
Meanwhile, the university claims that it returned the million-dollar gift to Coca-Cola, which said that it paid Hill $550,000 separately for various purposes.
“This reflects work with Dr. Hill prior to the establishment of Global Energy Balance Network. These funds paid for honoraria, travel, education activities and research on weight management,” explained company spokesperson Ben Shiedler.