WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Coke along with Pepsi, McDonalds and Nestle were said to be using a group to support the fight for obesity by focusing on exercise instead of changing into a healthier diet.
- In addition, research findings stated that these junk companies have directed their efforts at China to maintain their sales.
- Now, China promotes exercise and not diet to fight worldwide obesity.
Coke spearheads other multinational companies through funding a non-profit group to help shape policy on global obesity, according to a published report.
Aside from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, and McDonald’s were also declared to be using the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) to influence policy by focusing on exercise as a means to combat obesity, and not on diet.
While the U.S. and most of Europe have focused their efforts on healthy eating by reducing soda and junk food consumption to curb global obesity, junk food companies have aimed at developing countries such as China to keep their sales up.
“The company has cleverly maneuvered itself into a position of behind-the-scenes power that ensures that as government policy fights the growing obesity epidemic, it does not undermine its interests,” said Harvard Professor Susan Greenhalgh in the research which was published in the BMJ and Journal of Public Health on Wednesday.
Their efforts seemed to have paid off because China now rarely acknowledges the benefits of eating healthier in weight loss and improving health.
Greenhalg also discovered that since the late 1990s, the junk food companies have been working in China promoting exercise. Since its founding four decades ago by a Coke executive, the ILSI has now 17 international branches including one in China.
‘Happy 10 Minutes’ is a government campaign mentioned in Greenhalg’s research that tells children to exercise daily for 10 minutes without any mention of lowering junk food or sugary drinks intake.
Coke spreads the message that what matters more is how much you move, stated Greenhalg. Further, Coke has also maintained that sugary and carbonated drinks have health benefits despite presenting itself as a “healthy lifestyle” advocate.
In response, Coke spokeswoman Ann Moore said that after the company has listened to earlier criticisms to clarify its role in the battle against obesity, they acknowledged that too much sugar is bad for anyone. She added that the company currently promotes recommendations from the WHO and other health authorities on cutting back added sugar.
Moreover, Coke has stopped giving full funding for research related to well-being since 2017. According to their guidelines, they only provide financial support “if a non-Coca-Cola entity funds at least 50 percent of the cost.”
Meanwhile, ILSI spokeswoman Kristin DiNicolantonio said that the institute does not lobby or make recommendations to policy. “ILSI fills knowledge gaps and serves society in ways that any one entity on its own cannot,” DiNicolantino in a statement.
So far, no comments are heard yet from Pepsi, McDonald’s and Nestle.