The average American adult drinks about 500 cans of soda each year. That’s about 52 pounds of sugar being consumed in soft drinks alone. If a person drinks only one soda per day for a year — nearly half the average — they’d still guzzle down more than 35 pounds of sugar. Consequently, one soda per day for a year can lead to a weight gain of 15 pounds. Studies have also identified sodas as key contributors to other such chronic health conditions as type-2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.
Coca-Cola, however, says its drinks don’t cause obesity. Or at least the studies funded by Coca-Cola do.
The New York Times reports that the beverage behemoth has donated millions over the past several years to the Global Energy Balance Network, a nonprofit organization focused on redirecting America’s obesity conversation from caloric consumption to exercise habits.
In other words, Coca-Cola has been funding research that says people can keep eating and drinking whatever they want — they just have to exercise more.
“Coca-Cola’s agenda here is very clear: Get these researchers to confuse the science and deflect attention from dietary intake,” Marion Nestle, a New York University professor of nutrition, told the New York Times.
Most nutrition journals require researchers to disclose where their funding came from, for transparency’s sake. The studies Coca-Cola has sponsored almost invariably report sugary drinks have no links to diabetes, question the validity of the studies that do make this claim, and — as is the case with the Global Energy Balance Network — find that increasing activity is the most important part in fighting obesity.
Analyses of studies that Coca-Cola or its trade association has funded shows that they’re 83% more likely to produce results suggesting that consuming soda poses no harm.
Conversely, the same percent of studies funded by government agencies or independent foundations have found clear links between sugary beverage consumption and dangerous medical conditions.