- A study funded by Coca-Cola shifted the blame for obesity away from sugar and toward a lack of exercise and sleep as well as too much time in front of a TV or computer, according to the Daily Mail.
- The study was published by Bath University last year and its results were offered in a Dispatches documentary. It claimed more work was needed to confirm the role diet played in contributing to obesity.
- Researchers acknowledged Coca-Cola paid for the study, but claimed the soft drink company had no role in its design, results or the decision to publish. Industry insiders believe Coca-Cola is using the results to fight the UK Government’s upcoming sugar tax.
While the Bath University study discussed some causes that contribute to obesity, the fact Coca-Cola allegedly paid for the study naturally throws up some skepticism.
It also isn't the first time Coca-Cola has been accused of being less than forthcoming about its involvement in a study. In January, a lawsuit claimed Coke and the American Beverage Association deceived consumers about the safety of sugary beverages. A month earlier the soda maker was among several companies tied to a study arguing that warnings to decrease sugar intake are based on weak evidence and shouldn’t be trusted.
This study probably isn’t going to convince many people to consume more soda. The upcoming sugar tax in the U.K. is one example of how government and healthcare advocates are responding to the consumers' growing concerns about the ingredients in their food and beverages. In the U.S. alone, taxes and other initiatives already are sharply cutting soda sales in some areas. After Philadelphia enacted a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, sales in some local grocery stores dropped as much as 50%, prompting soda manufacturers to layoff employees.
Soda sales are already on the decline as consumers reduce their sugar intake and switch to water and healthier drinks like tea. It's likely that further taxes are going to hurt sales even more, so it makes sense for Coca-Cola and other soda companies to do what they can to fight them and try to get consumers to not associate the product with health. Still, some might argue that soda companies are not doing themselves any favors if they are not open about their role in a study that makes their beverage look good in the face of wide-spread criticism.