Coca-Cola is apparently up to some underhanded trickery once again.
In a special investigative documentary, Britain's Channel 4 investigative series, "Dispatches," uncovered a series of e-mails that suggest the soft drink giant influenced a study shifting the blame of obesity away from sugar. The e-mails reveal that Coca-Cola aimed to use this study as evidence to derail a planned tax on sugar in the UK, according to the Daily Mail.
The original study was published last year by Bath University, and it claimed that factors such as too much time in front of screens and a lack of exercise and sleep were key in developing obesity, and that "more work needed to be done" to confirm that diet had an impact on obesity. Coca-Cola was mentioned as a backer for the study, but the authors claimed that "The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript."
This isn't the first time Coca-Cola has backed studies debunking sugar as a factor in obesity. Food Dive reports that the soda giant has been linked to research claiming that calls to decrease sugar intake are based on weak research and can't be trusted, and has also been sued for deceiving customers about the safety of sugar-filled drinks.
What's different this time is the e-mails that go along with the study. Dispatches revealed that Coca-Cola representatives were in contact with senior university members at Bath University plotting to use the study to help derail the sugar tax in the UK, and were also scheming to derail similar taxes in multiple other countries.
Scientists interviewed in the documentary were "deeply disturbed" at these findings. Cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra had this to say about Coke's involvement:
"‘You can see Coca-Cola pulling the strings – the studies tend to be positive for them. When the studies are independent they are not. This is the tip of the iceberg. Commercial corruption of science and medicine is endemic. Science institutions collude with industry for financial gain at the expense of public health."
Secret meetings conducted between Coca-Cola officials and British ministers also resulted in threats of legal action from the soda company if the tax were to pass.
All of this points to Coca-Cola utilizing sketchy methods, funding, and what can be classified as bribery to keep their soda flowing into millions of consumers' hands as cheaply as possible.