Coca-Cola has been trying really hard to ward off the fact that carbonated drinks cause obesity.
The company has, therefore, blamed an increase in weight on all possible factors including lack of exercise, sleep and too much screen time, instead of a prime culprit: sugar.
Apparently, the business has been involved in producing studies published by Bath University, England, that claim “more work needed to be done” to determine the role diet plays in our weight.
As per British TV documentary series “Dispatches,” the company aimed to divert people from the side effects of sugary drinks, thereby blaming obesity on other unhealthy lifestyle choices.
“It’s a diversionary tactic. Exercise is undoubtedly important for health – but a bad diet plays an important role in obesity,” said Deborah Cohen of the British Medical Journal, who worked on the show.
Moreover, Coca-Cola also exchanged emails with senior staff at the university in attempts to escape the sugar tax implemented by the U.K. government. Corporate execs even met with MPs for the same purpose.
Studies have further shown that Coca-Cola has been desperately trying to connect with scientists and researchers to influence their reports, just as it paid Bath University for its biased opinions on obesity.
Professor Simon Capewell of Liverpool University suggested there is “clear evidence of Coca-Cola being involved in the development and design of the study.”
“You can see Coca-Cola pulling the strings — the studies tend to be positive for them. When the studies are independent, they are not. This is the tip of the iceberg. Commercial corruption of science and medicine is endemic. Science institutions collude with industry for financial gain at the expense of public health,” added Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a consultant cardiologist in London.
The company further landed itself in hot water when leaked emails showed Coke had established contacts with professor Alan Boobis, a food safety expert at Imperial College, London, and paid him around $1,000 per day to speak at an event. However, the professor denies receiving any money for his research.
Coca-Cola has attempted to clear itself of controversies by stating that the people it worked with have freely expressed their own opinions and were not influenced by the company. Yet, research stating that obesity has less to do with sugar and more with sleep and exercise is rather questionable.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucy Nicholson