Money talks, indeed. In an effort to downplay the unhealthiness of soda and get its consumers back, Coca-Cola provided financial and logistical support to a nonprofit organization, Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), whose research shifted the blame for obesity away from bad diets and stressed the importance of exercise, according to The New York Times. The organization was heavily criticized for its attempt to downplay any connection between sugary drinks and obesity, reports Consumerist.
A recent email leak revealed that Coca-Cola paid GEBN “unrestricted grants” on excess of $1.5 million, reports Eater. Though the University of Colorado returned $1 million in donations and maintained that its motives were based on good science, the group disbanded on December 1 due to “resource limitations.”
The Denver Post reveals that James Hill, a University of Colorado professor and the president of GEBN, accepted $550,000 from Coca-Cola, traveled the world on Coca-Cola’s dime for speaking engagements, and used his influence to solicit a job for his son through Coca-Cola. Hill says the money was provided, “to present research to other scientists and to encourage physical activity and responsible eating habits,” and adds that he no longer accepts money from Coca-Cola.