Global Energy Balance Network

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The Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) is a nonprofit organization formed in 2014 that "promotes the argument that weight-conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise," as described by The New York Times. GEBN has received significant support from Coca-Cola, which registered the organization's website, and since 2008 Coca-Cola has provided several million dollars in funding to universities that employed the scientists associated with GEBN. According to The New York Times, these ties have raised concerns among health experts that Coca-Cola "is using the new group to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume," and that GEBN is "part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes."[1]

GEBN vice president Dr. Steven Blair, a University of South Carolina professor, also

appeared in a video in which he chastised "the media" for blaming overconsumption of fast food and sugary drinks for the country’s high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In the video, Dr. Blair said, "There’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause."[2]

Blair later asked GEBN to remove the video, writing "I regret that a statement I made in this video has been used by some to brand G.E.B.N. as a network focusing only on physical activity."[2]

After the Times report, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent wrote in The Wall Street Journal would start to disclose its spending on advocacy and scientific research to address concerns that the company was "deceiving the public."[3][2]

References

  1. Anahad O'Connor, "Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets," The New York Times, August 9, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Stephanie Strom, "Coca-Cola to Disclose Its Spending on Research Into Soft Drinks and Health," The New York Times, August 20, 2015.
  3. Muhtar Kent, "Coca-Cola: We’ll Do Better," The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2015.
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