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Will the Soda Pop?

November 13, 2009

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Recently the American Academy of Family Physicians announced an agreement with Coca Cola, whereby Coke would give a six-figure grant to the AAFP to develop web content on beverages and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This outraged many in the health and wellness field. There were calls for the AAFP to break their deal with the soda giant, denounce any health benefits of sugary beverages, and proclaim them a piece of the health crisis pie by contributing to America’s growing obesity problem, especially among children. 

Walter Willett, guest speaker at Integrative Nutrition and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) nutrition and health researcher, has written a letter to the President-elect of the AAFP, giving them an alternative to the deal with Coke. "I'd like to offer your organization the opportunity to link to our website's content and return the funding to Coca-Cola," says Willett in the letter. HSPH's popular Nutrition Source website contains multiple pages of accessible content on how to achieve a healthy diet.

Willett agrees that it is important to provide information about how people can incorporate foods and drinks they love into an overall healthy lifestyle. He points out however, that research overwhelmingly suggests that the consumption of sugar-laden sodas is a leading cause of obesity in the U.S. today and that children are particularly at risk. For a copy of the complete letter go here.

Do you agree that the AAFP should return the money to Coca Cola and provide quality information on how to reduce sugary beverages for a healthy lifestyle? What are your thoughts?