Coca-Cola hit back at scathing New York Times story about its research funding

Coca-Cola has publicly responded to a scathing New York Times story detailing the soda company’s funding of research that claims exercise, not cutting calories, is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.

In a column published in USA Today, Coca-Cola chief technical officer Ed Hays claims the Times story “created confusion” around Coke’s funding of a new research group, called the Global Energy Balance Network.

“A recent New York Times article created confusion about our support of research and non-profit organisations, stating we want people to think that only exercise matters and not diet — but nothing could be further from the truth,” Hays writes. “We have always operated under the fact that a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise are key ingredients for a healthy lifestyle.”

According to the story, Coca-Cola donated $US1.5 million last year to help start the Global Energy Balance Network and provided another $US4 million in funding to two of the organisation’s founding members.

Coca-Cola is also listed as the administrator of the group’s website, which is registered to Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters, the paper’s Anahad O’Connor reported.

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.

Hays doesn’t address any of the Times’ specific claims in the column. But in a blog post for Coke last week, Hays said the company is proud to fund scientific research through the Global Energy Balance Network “
because their type of research is critical to finding solutions to the global obesity crisis.”

Coke doesn’t support the idea that exercise is the only way to lose weight, however, he writes.

Following the Times story, the company plans to be more transparent about the research it funds, according to Hays.

“Coca-Cola funds research so we can learn,” Hays writes. “It is simply the best way for us to inform our business and customers about our ingredients, our packaging and on challenging public health issues, such as obesity.”

He says the soda company has used research to learn more about Stevia, a natural sweetener used in Coke Life, and to create a bottle that is 100% made from plants.

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