Emails between Coca-Cola executives and leaders of an anti-obesity organization that received $1.5 million from the beverage giant show that Coke played a major role in establishing the group and shaping its work, the Associated Press reports.
The messages, excerpts of which were published by AP, indicate that Coke helped choose the Global Energy Balance Network's leaders, edited its mission statement, suggested content for its website, and provided talking points for dealing with media questions. The emails — dating from late 2012, before the nonprofit was formed — also include an admonition that the network be open about its ties to the industry.
The network has denied that its work was influenced by corporate support. It was at the center of a controversy over Coke's funding of scientists who argue that exercise is more important than cutting calories in combating obesity. The company has accepted the retirement of its chief health and science offer, who initially managed its ties with the nonprofit, and CEO Muhtar Kent has promised greater openness about Coke's giving.