Coke and Gov’t Partnership Against Heart Disease Under Fire

The partnership of Coca-Cola with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) The Heart Truth campaign has been heavily scrutinized this week by the likes of the consumer advocacy group Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Julie Deardorff (Chicago Tribune) and Tara Parker-Pope (New York Times).

The campaign, which aims to spread awareness of heart disease and encourage prevention among women, has named Heidi Klum as the “Diet Coke heart health ambassador.”

Critics say not only have regular soft drinks been linked to the obesity epidemic, but diet soft drinks have been, too, as some research indicates diet soft drink sippers are more likely to be overweight than regular soda drinkers. Furthermore, CSPI calls Coca-Cola the world’s “biggest manufacturer of obesigenic soft drinks.”

This relationship is under particular scrutiny after President Obama signed an executive order that directed a coordinated government strategy to solve the childhood obesity problem within one generation; heart disease is noted as an obesity-related health problem.

It’s further complicated, however, because if this wasn’t co-funded by Coca-Cola, the campaign wouldn’t nearly have the legs it does with corporate sponsorship, especially as gov’t funds are being stretched tighter and tighter.

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