Coca Cola

If someone wanted health advice they would not go to the neighborhood gas station for guidance they would contact The American Academy of Family Physicians. It just makes sense! So how come the Coca Cola Corporation is being criticized for its generosity in their funding a six figure deal with the Academy to be a sponsor on their health and wellness site? The Academy made the deal; if some doctors feel there is a conflict let them take the heat, not Coke! Coca-Cola is also just one among many corporate contributors to the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, a separate philanthropic group. These contributors include many drug companies, McDonald's, PepsiCo and a beef industry group. If The Academy takes Coke’s corporate money for the Foundation, they can take corporate money for the website. Academy CEO Dr. Douglas Henley said that the deal won't influence the group's public health messages, and that the company will have no control over editorial content. He said the new online information will include research linking soft drinks with obesity and will focus on sugar-free alternatives. The last time I checked, no one in America is forced to drink soda, eat candy or consume desserts. People ingest products with sugar because they are delicious. It is a matter of moderation, not total denial! So when Harvard University nutrition expert Dr. Walter Willett says, ”Coca-Cola, like other sodas, causes enormous suffering and premature death by increasing the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, gout and cavities," he should temper his statement by adding that it is vast quantities of consumption that cause these problems, not moderation! And if one drinks Diet Coke (the world’s greatest beverage) there is no sugar involved at all! When the deal was announced last month The Academy said the new Coca-Cola-funded educational material will be posted online in January. The idea is "to develop educational materials to help consumers make informed decisions so they can include the products they love in a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle," the academy's president-elect, Dr. Lori Heim, said at the time. Since Coca Cola will have zero control over the editorial content on the web site postings, how is The Academy being compromised? We have all met lots of physicians who are overweight, smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol while at the same time giving their patients advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Until every Academy doctor is at their goal weight and spending 30 minutes/day on the treadmill, they have no right to be castigating Americans who drink soda and the soft drink company who is sponsoring their web site. When they are beyond reproach and purer than Caesar’s wife then maybe we can talk. Until then I will have my Coke and a smile.
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