Incredible as it sounds, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has announced a six-figure alliance with the Coca-Cola Co. to fund educational materials about soft drinks, to be posted on the academy’s consumer-health and wellness website. Although the AAFP’s CEO, Dr. Douglas Henley, insists the deal will not influence the group’s public-health message, nutrition educator Walter Willett, M.D., M.P.H., begs to differ, writing: “Coca-Cola like other sodas, causes enormous suffering and premature death by increasing the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, gout, and cavities”.
Coca-Cola spokeswoman Diana Ciarlante said the criticism leveled at this deal “misses the point of the partnership, which is to provide education based on sound science,” but consumers are not ignorant. They get that sponsors spend dollars to promote their products. The AMA retreated from a deal with Sunbeam Corp., whereby it would endorse Sunbeam’s “Health at Home” products without having tested them; and the American Heart Association suffered a backlash when word spread that companies could buy a heart-check seal of approval for products that were anything but heart-healthy.