Coca-Cola’s Health Officer Steps Down in Wake of Email Revelations about Company’s Partnership with Anti-Obesity Group

Coca-Cola worked closely with a non-profit group to fight ’public health extremists,’ emails between the companies show
Coca-Cola’s Health Officer Steps Down in Wake of Email Revelations about Company’s Partnership with Anti-Obesity Group

“It has become clear to us that there was not a sufficient level of transparency,” Coke’s CEO, Muhtar Kent, said in a statement.

Coca-Cola is once again attempting to downplay its role in the formation of the Global Energy Balance Network — a group of medical professionals whose goal is to downplay the role of diet in maintaining a healthy weight and battling obesity — to which the soda giant has provided financial support, to the tune of $1.5 million. 

Global Energy, whose CEO said previously that there is “really virtually no compelling evidence” to suggest that soda and fast food were related to poor health, has attempted to maintain the image of distance from its big soda backer, but Muhtar Kent, Coke’s CEO, was eventually forced to issue a public apology for its targeted funding of scientific research that supports such a saccharine-sweet agenda.

Newly uncovered emails between the companies’ top brass, however, prove that Coca-Cola and the Global Energy Balance Network had always intended to work quite closely, with promise of “energy balance” research that would be “very specific to Coke interests.” The emails, obtained by The Associated Press, also point out a common goal of defeating “public health extremists” who might challenge Global Energy’s dismissal of diet in the role of obesity.

Shortly after the AP contacted Coca-Cola for comment, Coke announced the retirement of its health and science officer, Rhona Applebaum, described by the AP as having “managed the relationship” with Global Energy. The role will not be refilled.

In a statement, Kent said that it “has become clear to us that there was not a sufficient level of transparency with regard to the company's involvement with the Global Energy Balance Network.”

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