Saturday, October 15, 2016

How Corrupt are Coca Cola Funded Health 'Experts'?

Thanks to journalists like The New York Times Anahad O'Connor, who exposed Coca Cola's bald conspiracy to pay academics to rig nutrition research with a surreptitious front group called the Global Energy Balance Network, Coca Cola has suddenly embraced transparency.

The soda giant now has a list of health professionals and scientific experts on its website whom they have funded in some form or another.

Though some dietary types like to argue that accepting Big Soda money does not bias their research findings or dietary recommendations, the Loquacious Lowcarbivore was a tad skeptical that a pay for play correlation does not exist.
CSPI cartoon skeptical of scientific neutrality

Few so-called experts would be so brash as to claim that Coca Cola is actually healthy; so they use code words like energy balance, moderation and mindful eating to couch soda as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Which is a little like saying it's okay to chug antifreeze on occasion if you eat chia seeds, do CrossFit and feed the homeless once a month.

Coke's message -- which it paid researchers good money to prove and dietitians to parrot -- is that you can consume any food or drink in moderation (including those loaded with sugar) -- as long as you "balance" the extra calories with exercise.

So just for fun (and because it was a rainy Saturday afternoon without much else to do), we randomly selected a few names from Coca Cola's payola list and Googled them to see if we could find any who did not align with their financial benefactor.

Here's what Coke got for its money:

Elizabeth Applegate, Ph.D. wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal after it published an article entitled Sweet Surrender, Sugar Curbs Urged.
The American Heart Association’s strict limit on sugar as a means to better health through weight management may sound straightforward to some, but to those of us who have been working with dieters on the front lines for decades, it is unrealistic.
Asking Americans to limit their sugar intake to 100 calories for women and 150 for men means asking the average person to cut added sugar consumption by more than 70%. The AHA limits mean most of us are prohibited from having a single can of soda on a hot summer day, a slice of cake at a party, and even a third of a cup of dried cranberries as a snack.

Just say no” won’t get us a slimmer and healthier America. Instead, I suggest the AHA put its muscle behind promoting physical activity.
Robyn Flipse was unapologetic about being a paid mouthpiece for Coca Cola. In Mashable's article Coke is a Healthy Snack: How Company Pays to Get Out that Message, the registered dietitian basically went on record as being a flack for Coke:
Flipse has worked with Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association for years; her roles have included sending out messages on social media refuting the idea that sugary drinks are to blame for obesity and making herself available as an expert for news outlets. If a story says something negative about artificial sweeteners, Flipse said she might contact the PR agency and ask, "Do you want me to do something about that?"
Likewise, Sylvia Melendez Klinger appeared to cash in on her RD credentials by hawking articles that would be otherwise absurd to promote. Why else would a dietitian re-tweet an article defending sugar on the Orwellian Calorie Control Council website?
Pat Baird, MA, RDN, used the buzzword balance in an article on the Californians for Beverage Choice website -- funded by the beverage industry, natch:
Sugar is the demon of the day, and that's unfair. Sugar provides energy and that is the first need of the body and the brain. While many consume too much sugar, many also consume too much sodium. Likewise, sodium is an important nutrient.  My point: it's all about balance.  And it’s about understanding the importance of more of some things, and less of others.
(The Loquacious Lowcarbivore would be remiss if we did not point out that sugar is not required for energy and that people who consume no sugar (or carbohydrates for that matter) can derive energy from fat and do not die a slow and painful death from donut deficiency.)

Coca Cola did not appear to get its money's worth from every health expert it paid to behave as a human puppet. I was not able to find any pro-soda or pro-sugar messaging from registered dietitian Mary Zupke, who dissed soda twice in a Geneva Patch article on preparing healthy school lunches:
Make sure kids get protein at snack time and at meals.  Kids often rush through meals eating easily-accessible carbs such as chips or fries, or even drinking their calories by taking a soda or other sweetened drinks . . . . Protein will help keep kids from having those sleepy blood-sugar dips during class as a result of a "french fries and and soda" lunch.
As the Loquacious Lowcaribovore's late mom liked to say, Zupke could be the exception that proves the rule.

Low-carb book recommendations:

Low Carb, High Fat Food Revolution: Advice and Recipes to Improve Your Health and Reduce Your Weight

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet
What the Fat?: Fat's IN: Sugar's OUT Practical guide and recipes

The Real Meal Revolution: The Radical, Sustainable Approach to Healthy Eating (Age of Legends)

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers

The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars

Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health

New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great

The Harcombe Diet: Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight

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