Drinking Soda’s Not Bad for You, According to Coke-Funded Research

© AP Photo / Jeff ChiuEzra, last name not given, looks at the soft drink selection at K & D Market in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
Ezra, last name not given, looks at the soft drink selection at K & D Market in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 - Sputnik International
If you want to maintain a healthy weight, all you need to do is to redouble your exercise efforts - there's no need to worry too much about the amount of calories. That’s according to research backed by the world’s most prolific purveyor of high-calorie soft drinks, Coca-Cola.

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Last year Coca-Cola gave $1.5 million to launch the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) nonprofit group to push the idea that Americans spend too much time and energy worrying about what the put in their bodies, and not enough time and energy on exercise.  And it's not the first time Coke has supported the scientists at GEBN — the founders of the group have received $4 million from Coca-Cola since 2008, the New York Times reported.

"Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they're eating too much, eating too much, eating too much' — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on," says one of the group's founders, Steven N. Blair. "And there's really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause."

In the video, Blair refuted that the group has anything to do with Coca-Cola. However, its website, which touts itself as "the voice of science," is registered to the Atlanta-based Headquarters of Coca-Cola, which is also listed as a site administrator. The group's president James O. Hill claims the site has been registered at Coca-Cola's domain because the group's members simply had no idea how to create a site.

"They're not running the show," he said. "We're running the show."

"Coca-Cola's agenda here is very clear: Get these researchers to confuse the science and deflect attention from dietary intake," Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, told the New York Times. Other health experts agree that GEBN is a front group for Coke, aimed at distracting consumers from the link between sugary drinks and deadly health risks and to convince people that exercise will make up for an unhealthy diet.

Public health activists have repeatedly voiced concerns over Coca-Cola's marketing strategy, as recent  drops in sales have followed what one public health lawyer called  "a huge political and public backlash against soda."

For their part, Coca-Cola says it encourages researchers to "share their own views and scientific findings, regardless of the outcome," and insists that they to be "open about our funding."

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