The Pause That Refreshes
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) continues to be the target of criticism in both the blogosphere and conventional media outlets for its partnership with the Coca-Cola company.
From The Kansas City Star:
[T]he American Academy of Family Physicians…represents about 94,000 doctors who struggle to get their patients to shed excess pounds.
From across the room, Coca-Cola bats its eyelashes. The queen of carbonated drinks is fending off attacks that its sugar-sweetened products promote obesity and should be taxed.
The two organizations last month sealed a deal that had Coca-Cola giving the academy a grant in the mid six figures to come up with health messages for the public about beverages and sweeteners.
The academy and Coca-Cola said the information would be based on objective science.
But doctors, nutrition experts and consumer advocates charge that Coca-Cola is proffering the money just to improve its reputation and possibly to buy the academy’s silence.
In various toasts to our health, bedfellows of the strangest kind are everywhere and go back decades. The study of alcoholism owes much to the distilled-spirits industry, which teamed with Cornell University and the National Institute of Health on research as early as the 1940s.
Now an increasingly skeptical and health-conscious public, with so much information at its fingertips, isn’t sure whose advice to trust, said Shelly Rodgers, a University of Missouri researcher of strategic communications: “Consumers instantly see the conflict and go, ‘What? What?’ ”
From American Medical News:
The academy squandered its credibility by “taking tainted Coke cash,” said a statement from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group strongly critical of the food industry. In a letter to Dr. Henley, the group called on the academy to reject the deal.
Henry Blackburn, MD, who was one of 22 public health experts to sign the CSPI letter, said the deal is “just crazy.” Dr. Blackburn, professor emeritus in the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said “no professional society should accept funding from such companies.”
And from the blogosphere:
The problem here is not that the AAFP will necessarily become a mouthpiece for Coca-Cola. AAFP members are not going to start telling their patients to have a Coke and a smile three times a day. The problem is one of perception and credibility. And you can’t buy back your credibility. Not for six figures. Not for any price.