Coca-Cola may be fun to drink, but is it healthy? Despite warnings linking sugary drinks to illness, several nutrition and fitness experts suggested last month that it's OK to down a mini-can of Coke or other soda. These experts also work with and may be paid by Coca-Cola, the AP reports. "We have a network of dietitians we work with," says a Coca-Cola spokesman. "Every big brand works with bloggers or has paid talent." Indeed: Kellogg and General Mills have funded studies that portray their products as healthy, while dietitians working with PepsiCo have suggested its products (think Tostitos, Frito-Lay) on TV. A recent report by Eat, Drink, Politics revealed close links between America's biggest professional-nutritionist group and food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola, as reported by Forbes.
Experts spoke well of Coca-Cola's 7.5 ounce mini-cans in connection "Heart Health & Black History Month." One online post called a Coca-Cola mini-can a "refreshing beverage option," while another proposed "portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans." Most of the posts refer to the writer as a Coca-Cola "consultant" and one called itself a "sponsored article." Dietician Robyn Flipse, who wrote one of the pieces, says she would back Coke mini-cans even if Coca-Cola wasn't paying her—but admits she doesn't drink them herself. Meanwhile, the group Dieticians for Professional Integrity is seeking clearer lines between companies and health experts, while one analyst calls last month's article spree "an example of opaque sponsored content." (According to one study, soda ages our cells as much as smoking.)