Coca-Cola’s chief science and health officer is stepping down following an outcry about the company’s funding to an anti-obesity group, Bloomberg is reporting.
Rhona Applebaum has “made the decision to retire,” according to a report by Craig Giamonna, citing the company. A spokesman for Coca-Cola didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
Applebaum was involved in funding of the Global Energy Balance Network, a group that claims exercise, not cutting calories, is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Research suggests that’s not true: “Studies tend to show that in terms of weight loss, diet plays a much bigger role than exercise,” Philip Stanforth, a professor of exercise science at the University of Texas and the executive director of the Fitness Institute of Texas, told Business Insider.
Coca-Cola donated $1.5 million last year to help start the Global Energy Balance Network and provided another $4 million in funding to two of the organisation’s founding members, the New York Times revealed in August. Emails obtained by the Associated Press show that Coca-Cola and Applebaum have also been “instrumental” in formulating the group’s message.
The Global Energy Balance Network says on its website that “there’s really virtually no compelling evidence” that sugary drinks, fast food, and eating too much is to blame for the world’s obesity epidemic.
“Our support for scientific research was based on the desire to identify a more holistic, workable approach based on the best evidence,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “It has become clear to us that there was not a sufficient level of transparency with regard to the company’s involvement with the Global Energy Balance Network. Clearly, we have more work to do to reflect the values of this great company in all that we do.”
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