Fascinating reporting in the New York Times today on Coca-Cola’s funding of researchers and PR strategies to sell the message that it’s lack of exercise, not poor diet, that causes obesity.
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories.
The beverage giant has teamed up with influential scientists who are advancing this message in medical journals, at conferences and through social media. To help the scientists get the word out, Coke has provided financial and logistical support to a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network, which promotes the argument that weight-conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise.
Got it. If you exercise enough, you can swill all the Big Gulps full of Coke you want.
Baloney. (And watch your intake of that, too.)
Here’s some Asa Hutchinson-style anecdotal evidence.
Over 65 years, I’ve gained and lost hundreds of pounds. My own experience proves:
A balanced approach of reduced caloric intake and regular exercise is the most effective way to control weight.
Exercise alone won’t do it. Eat and drink more calories than you burn, you gain weight. There aren’t sufficient hours in a day to compensate for regular overconsumption.
A 200-pound man walking one hour at a pace of 17 minutes a mile burns about 390 calories — about a Big Gulp. One hour a day. Every day. At a decent pace.
Coca-Cola, you may have noticed, has contributed money recently to Little Rock for some park improvements. So there’s that. And I’m a believer in exercise. I’ve rarely missed a day of walking since my wife and I started a regular walking habit in the winter of 1993. Suffice it to say I’m not a poster child for Coke’s message.