"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."
Did you know that physical activity and #exercise can reduce your risk of some #cancers? #DrBlairSays pic.twitter.com/fmXjhUJqPC— Steven N. Blair (@StevenNBlair) August 7, 2015
"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."