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October 1, 2015

Reports reveal Coca-Cola funded Pediatric Association and child obesity research

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Vocab

Pediatrics — the branch of medicine dealing with children and their diseases

obesity — a disorder involving excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems

type 2 diabetes — a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar

hypertension — abnormally high blood pressure


The American Academy of Pediatrics ended its partnership with Coca-Cola this week after evidence emerged that the company paid for research downplaying the role of soda in obesity.

Coke was the main sponsor of the academy’s website, healthychildren.org, and paid them $3 million over the past five years along with $100 million the company gives to various medical and health groups.

Members of the Academy were upset after the New York Times looked at financial data that revealed the extent of Coke’s relationship.

Many pediatricians were surprised to find that their organization was aligned with Coke, according to New York Times reporter Anahad O’Connor. Pediatricians see childhood health problems related to obesity on a daily basis, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

“Some pediatricians said it was analogous to a major lung association group or university partnering with the tobacco industry,” O’Connor said.

Coke’s data also revealed financial contributions to research institutions like the Pennington Biomedical Center at Louisiana State University, which received $7 million over the past five years. A major study on the factors behind childhood obesity just released by the center left out any mention of sugary drinks.

Coke’s role in lobbying legal and political groups for support has been noticed in the past, but the New York Times reports exposed a great deal more about the extent of its influence on medical and academic institutions.


Warm up questions
  1. Why is soda not considered healthy?
  2. What are some factors that may lead to obesity?
  3. From its name, what do you think the American Academy of Pediatrics does?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why might it be a conflict of interest for the American Academy of Pediatrics to accept funding from Coca-Cola?
  2. Why would the food and beverage industries want to donate to medical and health groups?
  3. Do you think there should be restrictions on the amount of sugary drinks convenience stores are allowed to sell to young people? Why or why not?
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