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Coca-Cola is fighting the rapid drop in soda sales by going beyond marketing and co-opting science. As the New York Times reported on Monday, the company is backing a new scientific research group centered on the idea that lack of exercise — not sweet beverages — is making people unhealthy.
The Coke-supported Global Energy Balance Network is tied to several influential scientists, but the results of its studies run counter to the findings of independent health experts. The disconnect means that, while the group bills itself as an unbiased research entity, public-health critics call it nothing but a front group.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Coke is far from alone in quietly pushing junk science to reframe health issues and help win over consumers and regulators.