Coca-Cola has posted a breakdown of how much money it’s given to health groups and experts, a pledge CEO Muhtar Kent made last month in a Wall Street Journal op-ed after a New York Times article called the soda-maker out for funding “research” that just so happened to conclude people can eat and drink whatever they want, if they’ll just exercise.
According to the disclosures, which are helpfully arranged in a searchable list, Coke directly funded $21.8 million-worth of scientific research and piped another $96.8 million into what it prefers to call “health and well-being partnerships” — essentially, money paid to influential groups and dietitians who, in turn, publicly shared pro-soda views. (Recipients of Coke’s money include the American Diabetes Association, the Obesity Society, and a dietitian who got paid to promote a “refreshing beverage option such as a mini can of Coca-Cola” during American Heart Month.) In super-rosy PR speak, the company hails these disclosures as a “critical first step to becoming a more effective partner against obesity.” (Whatever you say, Coke.)
Of course, as much of a headache as this has all been for Coca-Cola, these new disclosures will complicate matters for the researchers who took Coke’s money. There’s now a special webpage for all of the “health professionals and scientific experts with whom we regularly collaborate and consult.”