The University of Colorado School of Medicine has decided to return a $1 million contribution from Coca-Cola.
The school was starting a group dedicated to ending obesity and critics were quick to call out the Global Energy Balance Network for discounting the effects sugar has on obesity.
The organization was established to take an “evidence-based approach to ending obesity.”
A Since a New York Times story noted its funding from Coke in August and the group has been criticized for trying to play down the role sugary drinks play in fueling weight gain, while playing up the importance of a healthy exercise routine.
“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,” group president, James Hill, a professor at the university, said.
In a statement, Coca-Cola said it agreed with the university’s decision and revealed that the money will instead be given to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“While the network continues to support a vigorous scientific discussion of the contributions of dietary and physical activity behaviors to the obesity epidemic, it has become evident that the original vision for GEBN has not been realized,” Coca-Cola said in a statement.
The Global Energy Balance Network was already off to a bad start. The group was forced to remove a YouTube video in which its leader’s claims the media was focused on “eating too much, eating too much, eating too much — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks, and so on.”
The group claims that “the idea that exercise is more important than diet in addressing obesity vastly oversimplifies this complex issue.”