by Victoria Simpson
Had your daily Coca Cola with that workout? According to a recent report in the New York Times, Coke has spent almost $120 million in the past five years funding academic health research, partnerships with major medical groups and community fitness programs aimed at curbing the obesity epidemic.
Hmm, what gives? Health grants from the world’s largest maker of sugary drinks?
The list, published on Coke’s website, outlines how hundreds of grants were given by the soda company to physicians groups, university researchers, health organizations and institutes since 2010, as part of an effort promised by Coke’s CEO, Muhtar Kent, to be more transparent about where the company donates its money.
Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity expert at the University of Ottawa, is quoted in the New York Times as saying he was surprised by the sheer number of community and medical organizations that had accepted large sums of money.
“These organizations are forming partnerships with a company whose products are absolutely thought to be a major player in obesity and the spread of chronic, noncommunicable diseases,” he said. “Why, in this day and age, would a public health organization create even the possibility for there to be influence that might affect their ability to champion and promote public health?”
The New York Times quoted Sandy Douglas, the president of Coca-Cola North America, as rebutting this by stating that the company’s donations were made for the public good.
“Our engagement and financial support of these well-respected experts, institutions and organizations were made with the best of intentions – to inform our business, support our local communities and support solutions to the public health issues facing people across the United States and around the world,” Mr. Douglas stated.
The list of grants shows Coke’s reach across the globe. Good or bad, it may be hard to determine (?) but it definitely has created grounds for a wile debate.
Read more about who got how much money, and how New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s attempt to ban large, sugary beverages ultimately failed.