Background: The reduction of soda intake in the population remains an important goal to improve population health. Concerns exist about how industry-sponsored studies in nutrition tend to favour the interest of the sponsor. We describe the scope of partnerships between Coca-Cola and health organizations in Spain, examining marketing strategies contained in scientific papers funded by Coca-Cola.
Methods: Funding for health organizations in Spain during 2010-2016 was retrieved of the Coca-Cola transparency list. We systematically searched research projects and publications (by PubMed) of all the recipient organizations. In addition, we characterize the research agenda and the level of alignment of sponsored authors with marketing strategies used by Coca-Cola.
Results: A total of 74 health organizations received funding from Coca-Cola between 2010 and 2016. Nutritional and cardiology organizations received the highest financial support. A total of 20 articles derived of two research projects were identified. Most publications (14 out of 20) were aligned with marketing strategies used by Coca-Cola (e.g. focusing on physical inactivity as the main cause of obesity). Authors identified did not disclose having previous conflicts of interest.
Conclusion: In Spain, numerous health organizations receive financial support from Coca-Cola. We provide evidence that research funded by this beverage company is serving its commercial objectives that, in many cases, are at odds with efforts to improve population health. Problems with transparency among authors and the recipient organizations imply that we are offering very conservative estimates about the impact of this company on public health.
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.