Obesity rates skyrocketed between 2013 and 2015 - the same time that this Global Energy Balance Network was downplaying the role that sugary beverages play in the obesity epidemic. Coca-Cola not only funded this front group to the tune of millions of dollars, but they tried to downplay that they were a major donor, while attempting to cover up how much they donated.
The investigative report was conducted by researchers from the US Right to Know, the University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Bocconi in Milan, Italy. They investigated over 18,000 pages of emails between the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, West Virginia University, and the University of Colorado. The investigation revealed that Coca-Cola supported a tight knit group of academics who were called the “email family.”
The network wasn’t trying to improve public health, but were instead trying to defraud it, manipulating the science to mislead Americans on the true metabolic causes of obesity. The corrupt network repeatedly promoted that lack of exercise was the only cause of the obesity epidemic, that Americans were solely at fault. The network repeatedly downplayed the level of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and flavor chemicals that are in Coca-Cola beverages.
Their research concealed the fact that Coca-Cola beverages are formulated to addict customers to the beverage with no regard to the level of sugar in the drinks and how this affects the metabolic system of humans. The real science on HFCS and sugary beverages was concealed in order to protect beverage industry profits.
Coca-Cola contributed $1.5 million to GEBN and funneled millions more to academics who were affiliated with GEBN. “Coke used public health academics to carry out classic tobacco tactics to protect its profits,” said Gary Ruskin, the executive director of US Right to Know. “It's a low point in the history of public health and a warning about the perils of accepting corporate funding for public health work.”
One email chain revealed deceptive intentions, as GEBN tried to make a Coca-Cola donation look like funding from multiple universities and supporters. GEBN academics also discussed policies on how to keep hidden the amount that Coca-Cola contributed to the research. The deception worsened with GEBN’s coalition building strategy that connected Coca-Cola’s research network with policy makers and public health officials.
The researchers who uncovered this scheme are calling this a 'low point in this history of public health.' Their investigative report is even more important today, because obesity was one of the most common underlying conditions that led to complications and death during the covid-19 pandemic.
If Coca-Cola was contributing to obesity rates and covering it up, then they are part of the problem exacerbating covid-19. By lying about their beverages, they are deceiving the public, causing rapid weight gain which leads to greater complications from viral infections. Coca-Cola is literally creating an environment within humans that is conducive for viruses to multiply. Coca-Cola is contributing to an immune-suppressed, chronically ill population, that is being repeatedly poisoned with each sip of HFCS, making it easier for viruses to take hold of their cells, multiplying and exacerbating infectious disease spread.