Coke CEO Promises Transparency in Response to GEBN Controversy

Rq9LIEYbThe Coca-Cola Company has responded to recent controversy surrounding the soft drink giant’s financial backing of the Global Energy Balance Network, a nonprofit that operates on the premise that America’s obesity epidemic has more to do with people’s lack of exercise than their caloric intake.

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Coke’s chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent said that the company had made mistakes in the way it has “engaged the public health and scientific communities to tackle the global obesity epidemic that is plaguing our children, our families and our communities,” saying that the approach “is not working.”

As part of a company effort to improve transparency in how it produces and markets its beverages, Kent announced a set of new initiatives to be executed under Sandy Douglas, President of Coca-Cola North America, including the publishing of “a list of our efforts to reduce calories and market responsibly, along with a list of health and well-being partnerships and research activities we have funded in the past five years” on the company’s website. Additionally, Coke will assemble an oversight committee to assist in determining and governing its future investments in academic research.

“I am disappointed that some actions we have taken to fund scientific research and health and well-being programs have only served to create more confusion and mistrust,” Kent wrote. “I know our company can do a better job engaging both the public-health and scientific communities – and we will.”

Coke spokeswoman Joanna Price told the the Journal that the company will publish the first disclosures on its site “within weeks.”