Coke, Pepsi Fund Study Touting Diet Soda's Health Benefits

'Laughable, unscientific nonsense'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2016 5:29 PM CST
Coke, Pepsi Fund Study Touting Diet Soda's Health Benefits
A study pushing the health benefits of diet sodas was partially funded by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.   (AP Photo/File)

You'll never believe who paid for a study that found drinking diet soda could be better than water for losing weight. Well, OK, you'll probably guess. The Independent reports the study—published in the International Journal of Obesity in November—was partly funded by ILSI Europe, an "industry-backed research consortium" that counts Coca-Cola and PepsiCo as members. Not only that, but the group directly paid some of the researchers. Consumerist has even more: One of the researchers is an ILSI Europe employee; the study's lead author once got funding from a lobbying group called Sugar Nutrition, UK—formerly the British Sugar Bureau; and other members of the study's team are "employees and shareholders of companies that manufacture products containing sugars and low-energy sweeteners.”

"Overall, the balance of evidence indicates that use of low-energy sweeteners in place of sugar, in children and adults, leads to reduced energy intake and body weight, and possibly also when compared with water," the study states. The Independent reports the study was based on results from three out of 5,500 related papers. Two of the papers found no difference between water and diet soda for weight loss. The sole paper claiming you're actually more likely to lose weight drinking diet soda over water was funded by the American Beverage Association. It flies in the face of numerous other studies, and one expert calls it "laughable, unscientific nonsense." "If you want good science, you cannot allow corporate sponsorship of research," he says. (It's not the first time Coca-Cola has been involved in a controversy like this.)

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