Keeping an Eye on the CDC

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Childhood Obesity News deeply wishes that there would not be so much to say about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but sadly, there is no lack of material. Earlier this month, Forbes.com published a comprehensively detailed series about the CDC, by health and science writer Rob Waters.

We present a few of the highlights in hopes that readers will consult Waters for the whole story. But the best quotation of all comes from his bio:

I’m interested in how and why the wealthiest country in the world has an irrational healthcare system that develops brilliant new therapies while overtreating many and underserving even more.

The huge government agency is like a gigantic tapestry, where almost any thread you pick to start unraveling, somehow leads back to the Coca-Cola Company. Coke’s ability to permeate every nook and crevice of life on planet Earth is uncanny. It’s not even a conspiracy theory, because while part of their influence is indeed exerted behind the scenes and undercover, Coke is blatantly obvious about its ambition to take over the world.

With help like the IFIC, we don’t need enemies

Coke is one of the pillars holding up a construct called the International Food Information Council (IFIC), along with the American Beverage Association and others, whose mission is to “help” journalists and bloggers who cover the areas of health, nutrition and food safety.

This type of influence-peddling is officially known as engaging in “public-private partnerships” and the CDC approves of it. Not only that, but the CDC promises Americans that it keeps a close eye on any potential conflicts of interest.

In the eyes of its critics, the whole edifice is a conflict of interest. The CDC is supposed to, among other things, protect the people from unsafe foods. Coke is in the business of selling unsafe foods.

How can those two goals be reconciled? Again, according to critics, they can’t.

The CDC aided in the creation and funding of the nonprofit Global Energy Balance Network whose goal was to sell the idea that concerns about sugar (and salt and meat and many other substances) were neither sane nor reasonable. The bottom-line message was that people, including children, can guzzle all the sugary drinks they want, without developing either obesity or diabetes, as long as they go out and exercise. If they get fat or diabetic anyway, it’s on them, for not exercising enough.

The GEBN cash came from – hold onto your hats — Coke. When The New York Times blew its cover, the Global Energy Balance Network had to give up. A university that had received research funds gave the money back, but its damaged reputation may take a while to recover. The scandal did not enhance the CDC’s reputation either, and the agency’s chief health and science officer retired in short order.

Muhtar Kent, the Chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, publicly promised to do better. For instance, to bankroll any future scientific studies, Coke will not provide more than half the funding. That ought to keep everybody at least 50% honest!

A spokesperson described the new trend toward honesty and transparency as a “journey,” which is appropriate, because those qualities are pretty much foreign territory to Big Soda. Elements of this trip include repackaging the same sugar bombs in smaller containers, and introducing new products like “enhanced” water.

(More coming up…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Trump’s Pick To Head CDC Partnered With Coke, Boosting Agency’s Longstanding Ties To Soda Giant,” Forbes.com, 07/10/17
Photo credit: Ludovic Bertron (laverrue) via Visualhunt/CC BY

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