In a somewhat disturbing revelation, it has been revealed that Coca-Cola has been paying fitness and nutrition experts to call soda a healthy treat amidst allegations that the beverage giant is responsible for fueling the obesity epidemic.
Last month, several of these experts wrote posts for American Heart Month that included a can of Coke as a snack idea. These pieces appeared widely in major newspapers and nutrition blogs.
Ben Sheidler, a Coca-Cola spokesman, compared the pitches to product placement deals a company might have with TV shows.
“We have a network of dietitians we work with,” said Sheidler, who declined to say the amount these experts were paid. “Every big brand works with bloggers or has paid talent.”
One post refers to a “refreshing beverage option such as a mini can of Coca-Cola.” Another suggests “portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal.”
Robyn Flipse, a dietitian who wrote one of the sponsored articles for coke, said that she would suggest coke as a healthy snack even if she wasn’t being paid to do so.
“I absolutely think that I provided valuable information,” she said.
She did note, however, that she doesn’t drink soda herself, which should be pretty telling.
Regardless of whether or not it was ethically acceptable to pay health experts to pitch unhealthy products, it really goes to show the limits you can truly trust these people, and any website that peddles health cures of any kind. Hey, that’s us, isn’t it? We’ll be the first to admit that you should consult a physician or dietitian if you have any questions about your health.
But maybe try to find one that hasn’t been paid by Coca-Cola.