Coca-Cola has partnered with a leading medical group to promote healthy soft drink consumption. Is there such a thing?
The American Academy of Family Physicians will receive a six-figure grant from Coke to develop educational material to teach consumers about the role beverages and sweeteners can play in a healthy, active lifestyle, said AAFP President-elect Lori Heim.
Though everything will be co-developed, the AAFP retains editorial control over the content, which will appear on the group's Web site, familydoctor.org, Heim said.
"Coke shares common goals in the arena of consumer education," said Heim, adding that the AAFP had been seeking a corporate sponsor and has worked with Coke before. "It's consistent with our principles."
But some AAFP members call the partnership an embarrassing conflict of interest and say the venture will undermine the credibility of the 94,600-strong AAFP.
In the wake of the announcement, several prominent health experts sent a letter of opposition to the AAFP.
More than a dozen Bay Area doctors resigned from the group, saying the alliance conflicts with their fight against obesity.
And Dr. Lenny Lesser, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at UCLA, created a Facebook group opposing the partnership. His stated mission? "Coca-Cola does not deserve to be in a partnership with family medicine, when their marketing and business practices promote obesity in our patients," wrote Lesser. "I want my Academy to end this agreement."
Despite the feedback, which the AAFP calls "mixed," the program will proceed as planned.