In their book, Oreskes and Conway outlined the way some key scientists, political conservatives, have manipulated scientific data to cast doubt on the dangers of smoking, the reality of human-caused climate change, the existence of a hole in the earth's ozone layer, etc. (More information about the book can be found at the Merchants of Doubt website.)
Coca-Cola seems to have found the technique compelling.
In today's New York Times, Anahad O'Connor reports that Coca-Cola is providing funding to scientists who argue that obesity is caused, not by eating too much, but by exercising too little (full article, here).
Global Energy Balance Network, the non-profit receiving Coke funds, is described on its website as "a newly formed, voluntary public-private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to identifying and implementing innovative solutions -- based on the science of energy balance -- prevent and reduce diseases associated with inactivity, poor nutrition and obesity. It is a premier world-wide organization led by scientists working on the development and application of an evidence-based approach to ending obesity." ("Energy balance" is the simple equation of calories in, from food and drink, to calories out, from physical activity.)
So much for all that pesky criticism about the role that sugary soft drinks play in weight gain and obesity.
So it's really all about getting up off that couch, and not so much about getting your hand out of the cookie jar, right?
As Aaron Carroll wrote in the New York Times last June, research clearly shows that, to lose weight, eating less is far more effective than exercising more (article, here).
Among other points, Carroll noted that studies have shown that "total energy expenditure and physical activity levels in developing and industrial countries are similar, making activity and exercise unlikely to be the cause of differing obesity rates."
Moreover, exercise can raise appetite, so if all you do is exercise more... you may find that you're eating more too.
That's not to say exercise is unimportant. Carroll wrote that:
Many studies and reviews detail how physical activity can improve outcomes in musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, neurological diseases and depression....
But that huge upside doesn't seem to necessarily apply to weight loss. The data just don't support it. Unfortunately, exercise seems to excite us much more than eating less does.So why would Coca-Cola be funding this Global Energy Balance Network? Let's see...
As O'Connor reports today, regular Coke sales are down ("In the last two decades, consumption of full-calorie sodas by the average American has dropped by 25 percent."), there are widespread efforts to tax sugary drinks and/or to remove them from school vending machines.