- Nutrition experts are expressing concerns over the message from the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting obesity research. It said eating junk food doesn't directly cause obesity and that obesity can instead be fought via exercise.
- Concerns were raised earlier this week about the organization's ties to financial backer Coca-Cola Co., among others. Coca-Cola donated $1.5 million last year to to help launch GEBN.
- Nutrition experts say this message is trying to deflect from sugary drinks' role in the rise of obesity, while GEBN said there is "virtually no compelling evidence" for that argument, according to the GEBN vice president, Steven N. Blair, an exercise scientist, in a video announcing the organization.
Health experts find faulty logic with the claims made by the Coca-Cola-backed nonprofit.
"But in the bigger picture it’s food intake over exercise that dominates as a cause of obesity – you cannot exercise your way out of overeating, that’s kind of a misguided idea," Scott Grundy, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern medical center, told The Guardian.
However, GEBN believes its research has been oversimplified and taken out of context.
"Recent media reports suggesting that the work of my colleagues and me promotes the idea that exercise is more important than diet in addressing obesity vastly oversimplifies this complex issue … I can say unequivocally that diet is a critical component of weight control, as are exercise, stress management, sleep, and environmental and other factors," James Hill, its president, said in a statement to The Guardian.
Food and beverage companies, particularly soda and junk food producers, have long been held as contributors to the rise of obesity in the U.S. Coca-Cola's funding could lead to the public questioning the research, particularly health experts, who believe the backing could skew the results.