University Returns $1 Million Grant to Coca-Cola
Monday, November 9, 2015
The University of Colorado School of Medicine announced Friday that it was returning a $1 million gift from Coca-Cola after it was revealed that the money had been used to establish an advocacy group that played down the link between soft drinks and obesity.
Coca-Cola donated the money in 2014 to help establish the Global Energy Balance Network, a nonprofit group of scientists that urged people to focus more on exercise and worry less about what they eat and drink. Coke’s financial ties to the group prompted criticism that the soft drink giant was supporting scientists as a way to shape obesity research, an issue reported by The New York Times in August.
In response to the article, Coke’s chief executive, Muhtar Kent, disclosed that the company had spent almost $120 million since 2010 to pay for academic health research and for partnerships with major medical and community groups involved in curbing the obesity epidemic. Recipients included the American Academy of Pediatrics, which accepted $3 million from Coke to launch its healthychildren.org website, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the country’s largest group of dietitians, which had received $1.7 million from Coke. After the disclosure, both groups said they were ending their relationships with Coca-Cola.
In a statement late Friday, the University of Colorado said it was returning the $1 million seed money that Coke had provided to set up the Global Energy Balance Network because “the funding source has distracted attention from its worthwhile goal.”
“Obesity and related health issues are serious concerns for personal medical care and public health,” the university said in the statement. “The School of Medicine and physicians and researchers on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are making significant contributions to the understanding of and care for these health-related issues and the source of funding for the network should not distract from their efforts.”
In a statement, Coke said it would donate the returned money to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
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