Many modern studies have found that we live in a time of health-conscious consumers, but many others have also found that sugary beverages such as Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are widely unhealthy and wildly popular among Americans. Coca-Cola’s solution to the problem? Keep drinking Coke, but hit the gym more often.
The company has started financing and offering logistical support to influential scientists who agree that sugary beverages aren’t as dangerous as other field experts and media outlets would like people to believe that they are, and that people should pay more attention to how much they exercise.
The goal is to spread the above mentioned advice as much as possible. The scientists are using everything from medical journals, to conference speeches and presentations, to social media posts. They’ve all gathered together in a new, non-profit organization that calls itself the Global Energy Balance Network.
Steven N. Blair, vice president of the new organization and exercise scientist from the University of South Carolina, gave a statement in a presentation video saying that “Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ – blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on”.
He quickly went on to add that “there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause”.
As expected, the new message is a controversial one. Several health workers from outside the Global Energy Balance Network have shared their opinion on the subject and theorized that the new campaign is Coca-Cola’s attempt at deflecting critics who accuse their sodas of contributing to the obesity and type 2 diabetes “epidemic”.
Other field experts have theorized that it’s all a marketing ploy to boost sales. Statistics have shown that consumption of full-calorie sugary beverages has dropped among Americans by 25 percent (25%) in the past two decades.
And the company is set to start loosing even more money as state officials across the country are considering, bans, warnings and taxes for sugary beverages. Some people are also advocating the removal of this type of product from school grounds, a move that would cost Coca-Cola a significant segment of their consumers.
On top of everything, there are also debates going on about whether or not Coca-Cola should even be allowed to have children as a target audience.
Michele Simon, public health lawyer, gave a statement of her own stressing these very circumstances. She said that Coca-Cola is currently trying to fight off “political and public backlash”. Every major American city is desperately trying to find a way to make its citizens drink less sugary beverages, and Coca-Cola is suffering financial losses as a direct result of this attitude.
Neither Coca-Cola, nor the Global Energy Balance Network have denied the fact that last year the commercial company donated $1.5 million to the organization to help it get started, or the fact that it also donated $4 million to founding members Steven N. Blair and Gregory A. Hand back in 2008.
But James O. Hill, president of the new organization and professor from the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, gave a statement insisting that the scientists are the ones running the show, not Coca-Cola.
It’s worth mentioning that that it is not uncommon for companies in the food or beverage industry to finance scientific research. However, some tests have suggested that the health experts receiving money from these companies are sometimes a little bias.
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