Scientists are on a mission to find the true culprit behind America’s obesity epidemic, because it sure as hell can’t be soda, according to a new nonprofit organization partially funded by the Coca-Cola Co. The New York Times health reporter Anahad O’Connor recently explored the work of Coke-backed Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), which argues that Americans should be more concerned about getting enough exercise than counting their calories.
“The popular media and the scientific press says ‘Oh, they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much,’ blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on,” GEBN co-founder Dr. Steve Blair said in a recent promotional video. “And there’s really no compelling evidence that that in fact is the cause.”
Unsurprisingly, some health experts are criticizing the nonprofit’s agena. New York University professor of nutrition, food studies and public health Marion Nestle calls GEBN, whose website is registered to Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters, “a front” for the soft drinks kingpin.
“Coca-Cola’s agenda here is very clear,” said Nestle. “Get these researchers to confuse the science and deflect attention from dietary intake.”
Public health lawyer Michele Simon echoed a similar sentiment in her statement, pointing to the current climate of the carbonated soft drinks category.
“Coca-Cola’s sales are slipping, and there’s this huge political and public backlash against soda, with every major city trying to do something to curb consumption,” public health lawyer Michele Simon told the Times. “This is a direct response to the ways that the company is losing. They’re desperate to stop the bleeding.”
Representatives for Coca-Cola declined to comment for the Times’ story but Blair defended his organization’s affiliation with the company, saying GEBN leaders, and not cola executives, are “running the show.”