Coca-Cola’s Million-Dollar Strategy to Make You Exercise More Instead of Drink Less

Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Exercise and Fitness, Health with 0 Comments

Willy Blackmore | TakePart

Photo: Brent Moore/Creative Commons

Photo: Brent Moore/Creative Commons

Coca-Cola is putting a lot of cash toward convincing the public that its product isn’t causing the obesity epidemic.

In 2012, Coca-Cola debuted something on its website for British consumers: a calculator that would show Coke fans how many minutes of, say, “easy walking,” yoga, or Zumba it would take to burn off the calories contained in 12 fluid ounces of its soda.

“Our Work It Out Calculator,” the website reads, “features great ideas for activities that will help you maintain a healthy balance between the number of calories you consume and the amount you use up each day. Even simple activities like gardening, walking and doing the housework can help to burn off calories.”

It’s become something of a corporate theme for Coke: The obesity problem doesn’t have to do with its product but rather with people not exercising enough to make up for all of the extra liquid calories they consume, including those contained in a can of Coke. So much so that, according to The New York Times, the company has spent millions to fund research to put scientific weight behind the notion.

The Times reports that Coke donated $1.5 million to help start the Global Energy Balance Network, a nonprofit that promotes physical activity as a means of combating obesity and other public health problems, and has given nearly $4 million over the last seven years to finance the work of two of the group’s members, including Steven N. Blair, whose work has had a major influence on federal exercise guidelines.


While the Global Energy Balance Network insists it is independent, Marion Nestle, a professor of food studies and nutrition at New York University, told the Times outright that it is a front group for Coca-Cola.

Nestle, a vocal critic of food companies, sees corporate-backed research happening across the food industry. When TakePart spoke to her in March about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ appearing to endorse Kraft Singles, she said she makes a game out of it when she reads journal articles.

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