The Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), an anti-obesity group that was closely associated with the Coca-Cola company, has announced that it is shutting down operations.
The reason for discontinuing operations was said to be “resource limitations,” but it is widely believed that the organization came under heavy criticism after Coca-Cola’s scope of involvement inside GEBN came to light.
According to a series of email excerpts released by the Associated Press between executives at Coke and the anti-obesity group, it seems the communication between Coca-Cola and GEBN started back in late 2012 when GEBN was even yet to be formed. In fact, an email from Coca-Cola Chief Health and Science Officer Rhona Applebaum sent to GEBN president James Hill back in October 2012 came with the subject line “Ready for a stimulus pkg?” Moreover, Applebaum informed Hill that she has already “sold the concept” behind what would be known as GEBN. The following month, Applebaum sent an email to both Hill and GEBN leader John Peters with regards to a study funded by Coke. Applebaum also offered media training to them.
Perhaps, the most telling email was sent back in June 2014 by Hill to a Coke executive. This email reportedly stated that the company’s research should be about energy balance. Moreover, Hill also said, “We have also given you ideas for research projects that might be very specific to coke interests.” The following month, Applebaum sent an email to the same group with a “tweaked” proposal regarding GEBN’s establishment. The proposal was also described as “akin to a political campaign,” which can develop and execute “a powerful and multi-faceted strategy to counter radical organizations and their proponents.”
On its website, GEBN is now encouraging members to continue with the network’s mission in connecting and engaging with “multi-disciplinary scientists and other experts” in pursuit of using energy balance to live healthier.