Yes, you read the headline correctly. To be sure, Coke funded a study that did in fact ‘prove’ their product is healthier than water. Water being the most basic and fundamental element to our health, this is an astonishing claim. To reiterate, Coke funded this study.
The finest doctors from Nestle, Mars, Unilever, Pepsi and Coca Cola make up the back bone of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). The ILSI funded the study: ‘Does low energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight?’. There was a small acknowledgement that the authors were employees and shareholders of companies that manufacture products containing sugars and low energy sweeteners.
The study did not disclose that the co authors each received 750 Euro’s (about 850 American dollars). When asked about the intentional lack of information, the response was priceless, other organizations had supported the work and it had not provided details of funding for ‘reasons of space’.
Members of society at large argued against the study, for its conflict of interest. Members of the scientific community pointed out the fact that the document was peer reviewed and is riddled with mistakes in methodology and wild speculations. Peer reviews have a large capacity for allowing mistakes to go ‘unnoticed’.
Cardiologist and adviser to the National Obesity Forum, Dr. Aseem Malhotra said, “To suggest that diet drinks are more healthy than drinking water is laughable unscientific nonsense.”
This isn’t the first time Coca Cola’s audacity has surpassed the public’c and academia’s gullibility. Last year the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine was gifted with one million dollars from the beverage company to promote their diet drinks.
The University was supposed to promote Cola’s diet drinks while down playing the role of their drinks in the obesity epidemic. The University declined and returned the funds very publicly.
Cola tried to make this exchange seem like a ‘hands off’ deal but email correspondence showed that the company was trying to manipulate science as a public relations tactic. Coke’s chief health and science officer, Rhona Appelbaum wrote, “Akin to a political campaign, we will develop, deploy and evolve a powerful and multi-faceted strategy to counter radical organizations and their proponents.”
This is just one example of corporations influencing science as a PR tactic. It happens all the time as these behemoths try to humanize their actions and products. Its disgusting that these companies would try to pervert truth so thoroughly, to simply turn a profit.