University returning $1M Coke contribution for health group

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — The University of Colorado School of Medicine is returning a $1 million contribution from Coca-Cola to start a group that says it's dedicated to ending obesity.

The money was provided to establish the Global Energy Balance Network, which says it is working on an "evidence-based approach to ending obesity." Since a New York Times story noted its funding from Coke in August, the group has been criticized for trying to play down the role sugary drinks play in fueling weight gain.

The group's president, James Hill, is a professor at the university.

"While the network continues to advocate for good health through a balance of healthy eating habits and exercise, the funding source has distracted attention from its worthwhile goal," the university said Friday in a statement.

A representative for the university was not able to provide further details. A representative for Coca-Cola Co., based in Atlanta, wasn't immediately available for comment.

In a video announcing the Global Energy Balance Network, one of the group's leaders had said the media focuses on "eating too much, eating too much, eating too much — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks, and so on." That video has since been taken down.

The network has said that the suggestion that its work promotes "the idea that exercise is more important than diet in addressing obesity vastly oversimplifies this complex issue."