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Coca-Cola Caught Red-handed — Again

The Coca-Cola Company is no stranger to sneaky tactics. In addition to the scary health dangers of their namesake product that they actively attempt to hide, the soda giant has been caught influencing health policy and undermining public health initiatives — again.

According to a paper recently published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, Coca-Cola has been funding the research of several public universities, despite the company’s publicly stated goal of transparency. Coca-Cola announced increased transparency only after The New York Times revealed in 2015 that the company paid influential scientists to advance the message that exercising is the key to maintaining a healthy weight — not cutting calories. The company hoped that spreading the message would place less of an emphasis on the link between sugary drinks and obesity.

Gary Ruskin, co-founder and co-director of nonprofit food watchdog US Right to Know, was one of the authors of the paper. He stated that he is extremely motivated to pursue the research because of “Coca-Cola’s efforts to evade responsibility for its role in the global obesity epidemic.”

The study’s authors looked into five research agreements between Coca-Cola and Louisiana State University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Toronto and the University of Washington. Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and public health at New York University explained, “Companies that sponsor research make sure that they get what they pay for. Industry-funded research is marketing research, not scientific research.”

Despite Coca-Cola’s attempt to spread the message that the obesity epidemic is driven by a lack of activity, as opposed to indulging in sugar-based foods and beverages, the link between sugar and obesity is as strong as ever. Drinking just one soda a day may increase your risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome, along with stroke and dementia.

As an informed consumer, the convoluted logic Coca-Cola continues to use to protect their profit margins should be easy for you to spot. Ditch the soda and other sugary beverages and choose clean water, a cup of organic coffee or tea or a fresh homemade juice full of plenty of healthy veggies.