Critics have long accused food and beverage companies of trying to exonerate their products from blame for obesity by funding organisations that highlight alternative causes. Yet, conclusions about the intentions of food and beverage companies in funding scientific organisations have been prevented by limited access to industry’s internal documents. Here we allow the words of Coca-Cola employees to speak about how the corporation intended to advance its interests by funding the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN). The documents reveal that Coca-Cola funded and supported the GEBN because it would serve as a ‘weapon’ to ‘change the conversation’ about obesity amidst a ‘growing war between the public health community and private industry’. Despite its close links to the Coca-Cola company, the GEBN was to be portrayed as an ‘honest broker’ in this ‘war’. The GEBN’s message was to be promoted via an extensive advocacy campaign linking researchers, policy-makers, health professionals, journalists and the general public. Ultimately, these activities were intended to advance Coca-Cola’s corporate interests: as they note, their purpose was to ‘promote practices that are effective in terms of both policy and profit’. Coca-Cola’s proposal for establishing the GEBN corroborates concerns about food and beverage corporations’ involvement in scientific organisations and their similarities with Big Tobacco.
- health policy
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