It’s the stuff of quintessential irony. Paradox. An absurdity so egregious it’s painful to type, let alone view on the screen. (There’s actual smoke rising from my keyboard….) We’re talking corporate “public health” sponsorships so ridiculous your eyes will fall out of your head. First, a show of hands. How many of you are familiar with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)? Sounds like a thoughtful, professional organization, yes? A group dedicated to noble and intelligent advocacy for good family health, no? Voices of expert reason, rational and practical medical authority, right? A group that would – with sound mind and sobriety – partner with a soda company for a nutrition-focused consumer education program??? Folks, I got my boots on today for a good old-fashioned butt kicking (blog style, that is). Pull up a chair. I’m just getting started.
Here’s the gist. The aforementioned Academy of Family Physicians recently partnered with The Coca-Cola Company (peddler of Coke, Sprite, Fanta and tricked up sugar-, I mean vitaminwater and POWERADE), to help “educate consumers about the role their products can play in a healthy, active lifestyle.” Yes, do the double take…. Now sit with it. Is it burning your brain yet? (Just rest and take a breath whenever you need to.)
This truly pains me, but I’ll continue. Keep in mind that all the quotes are from the AAFP’s own website.
The high fructose corn syrup with caramel color beverage company has benevolently offered their financial assistance in creating “consumer education content on beverages and sweeteners for [the AAFP’s website] FamilyDoctor.org, an award-winning consumer health and wellness resource.” H-E-A-L-T-H resource – award-winning, no less? Oh, there’s more. The president-elect of the AAFP welcomes Coca-Cola’s partnership in “teach[ing] consumers how to make the right choices and incorporate the products they love into a balanced and healthy lifestyle.” R-I-G-H-T choices? O.K., let’s go for broke here. As for Coca-Cola’s self-congratulations, their talking head tells us the “partnership will help provide Americans with credible information on beverages and enable consumers to make informed decisions about what they drink based on individual need.” C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E? and N-E-E-D?!! (My keyboard is now a smoldering pile of dust.)
Where do you even begin with this farce? But wait – there’s more.
The AAFP’s partnership with the evil empire is the first of what they hope to be many productive collaborations with corporate sponsors. (Gee, nothing like getting off to a stellar start!) It’s part of the organization’s new “Consumer Alliance,” a division created from the brilliant realization “that consumer products companies have significant influence over consumer health.” (Gee, so let’s just give them more influence???) The AAFP’s Consumer Alliance “strategy” then is to “partner with companies who demonstrate good corporate stewardship and a strategic focus on consumer health.” (After all, how can you read that description and not think soda?)
Finally, there’s the argument that these organizations don’t have the money for true visibility on their own. They can’t compete with the omnipresent junk food ads put out by the corporate giants that sell the stuff. Gee, so what’s their answer? Team up with these same seedy players so you can buy your ad space (wherever that might be)! The fact is, you’ve already lost the argument. You’ve rescinded the right to call a spade a spade and soda the worthless horsesh– that it is. What’s the point in even making an argument then? The informed public doesn’t have any faith in you, and the ignorant ones who are looking for an excuse to continue their morning Coke habit now have it. You’ve said that soda can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet, and that’s all these people need to hear. Trust me, they don’t bother listening to the rest of the message, and they’re certainly not going to scour your organization’s website to look for any other reason to abstain. The AAFP’s FamilyDoctor.org can boast all it wants about being the “only consumer health Web site owned and operated by a professional medical association….” Sorry, AAFP, where I come from bunk is bunk, however you spin it. And selling out is selling out, however you justify your deal with the devil in a red can.
I’ve said my piece. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading.
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.