A report out of the New York Times makes one thing very clear: Big Soda is quietly killing people while funding bad smokescreen science that says the opposite. How long until the people who run Coke are held accountable?

The gist of the Times piece is simple: the Coca-Cola Company is spending millions of dollars to fund semi-bogus research organizations that will put pro-soda talking points into medical literature, namely that fat people are only fat because they don’t exercise enough, not because they ingest trays of garbage and cheap sugary drinks.

Here’s the new word from Dr. Steve Blair, a University of South Carolina professor of medicine now on the Coke payroll:

“Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is, ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ — blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on,” the group’s vice president, Steven N. Blair, an exercise scientist, says in a recent video announcing the new organization. “And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”

This is a quite literally dangerous argument coming from a doctor: the things we eat (and how much) are absolutely crucial to our health, and the preponderance of modern medical understanding says funneling Mountain Dew into the mouths of babes is one reason why we’re all so bloated and sick.

This is awful, but somehow not as awful as this 2012 USA Today interview Coca Cola executive Katie Baynes, the “Senior Vice President, Global Sparkling Brands,” who doesn’t even bother to mask her food evil in mushy science. The delusion comes straight from the top.

Highlights include the following claims:

Soda is not inherently any worse for you than, say, skim milk or green tea:

Q: Is there any merit to limits being placed on the size of sugary drinks folks can buy?

A: Sugary drinks can be a part of any diet as long as your calories in balance with the calories out. Our responsibility is to provide drink in all the sizes that consumers might need.

Soda is part of a child’s balanced, healthy lifestyle:

Q: Is anyone at Coca-Cola trying to figure out a way to get sugar out of all drinks?

A: There is a large portion of the population that relies on the carbohydrates and energy in our regular beverages. When my son gets home from school, he needs a pick-up with calories and great taste.

Soda is a means of energy and hydration:

Q: But critics call soft drinks “empty” calories.

A: A calorie is a calorie. What our drinks offer is hydration. That’s essential to the human body. We offer great taste and benefits whether it’s an uplift or carbohydrates or energy. We don’t believe in empty calories. We believe in hydration.

This woman is in charge of children’s lives:

Q: Shouldn’t teens drink less cola and more milk and water?

A: Teens should get a healthy diet through food and beverage choices throughout the day.

Q: How much Coke should a kid drink a day?

A: We don’t make recommendations on what kids should drink. But a 12-ounce can of Coke has 140 calories, the same as a lunch-box-size bag of pretzels.

Pretzels! Sure, maybe an actual prison sentence for Katie Baynes Senior Vice President, Global Sparkling Brands is excessive, but she’s a danger to herself and others. Perhaps some sort of probation, or a tracking device.

Contact the author at biddle@gawker.com.
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