- The Global Energy Balance Network — the Coca-Cola-backed nonprofit — is "discontinuing operations due to resource limitations," according to its website, effective immediately.
- The Associated Press revealed emails last week that suggested Coca-Cola's strong impact on how the group operated. "Coke helped pick the group's leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested articles and videos for its website," reported the Associated Press.
- Coca-Cola also said last week its chief health and science officer, Rhona Applebaum, retired; she first coordinated the company's work with GEBN.
Coca-Cola also said last week it stopped working with the organization, which was headed by a University of Colorado School of Medicine professor.
The New York Times pointed out Coca-Cola's relationship with GEBN in August. GEBN had been claimed to be highlighting exercise over diet as a solution to obesity. Coca-Cola said the report "created confusion." The company's CEO Muhtar Kent pledged for more transparency, and later acknowledged in a statement the transparency was not strong enough when it came to the company's relationship with GEBN.
The University said Nov. 6 it was giving back a $1 million donation from Coca-Cola on account of the distraction.
Meanwhile, the University of South Carolina — where one of the professors is a GEBN leader — is holding on to a $500,000 donation for the group, saying the funds were handled properly.
James Hill, the organization's president and a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Steven Blair, the organization's vice president and a professor at the University of South Carolina, did not return comments to the Associated Press. Coca-Cola deferred questions regarding the donation to the University of South Carolina, which has yet to comment as of Monday night.
Research funding has proved an intense, controversial topic, one where opinions flare across all sides of the industry, brought heavily into the public eye by Coca-Cola as well as emails in a New York Times article about the industry's relationship with academics.