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CocaCola Pulling A Trick Out Of Big Pharma’s Hat

Updated: Jan 16

Coca­Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science­ based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories. The beverage giant has teamed up with influential scientists who are advancing this message in medical journals, at conferences and through social media. To help the scientists get the word out, Coke has provided financial and logistical support to a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network, which promotes the argument that weight­ conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise. “Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on,” the group’s vice president, Steven N. Blair, an exercise scientist, says in a recent video announcing the new organization. “And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”

This flies in the face of most science which places the importance of diet at about 75:25 over exercise. Studies confirm this finding. A 2011 meta-analysis, a study of studies, looked at the relationship between physical activity and fat mass in children, and found that being active is probably not the key determinant in whether a child is at an unhealthy weight. In the adult population, interventional studies have difficulty showing that a physically active person is less likely to gain excess weight than a sedentary person. Further, studies of energy balance, and there are many of them, show that total energy expenditure and physical activity levels in developing and industrialized countries are similar, making activity and exercise unlikely to be the cause of differing obesity rates.

This is a great exercise and learning how to look critically at any study. First look at the source of the research. Who's footing the bill. It is not always the case that the outcome will be biased toward the funder, but unfortunately it is usually the rule rather than the exception.

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