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How Sweet It Is: Pepsi Funds Diabetes/Obesity Research at Yale

Debbie says:

As an informed body-image activist, I’m a lot more skeptical about the connection between eating too much sugar and diabetes than most folks. I’m aware of the research regarding Bisphenol A (which is in everyday plastic) and DDE, which is in most human bodies.

Somehow, that skepticism doesn’t make me feel good about this story:

In New Haven, the [PepsiCo] corporation will also fund a graduate fellowship in the M.D.-Ph.D. program at the Yale School of Medicine to support research on nutrition and obesity-related diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, PepsiCo spokeswoman Michelle Naughton said.

While PepsiCo’s laboratory will not officially be affiliated with Yale, School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said PepsiCo chose to have a laboratory in New Haven to collaborate with the school’s faculty, which Alpern said is known for its research in obesity and metabolism..

While this Yale article is a bit coy about “collaborating with the school’s faculty,” other sources say that PepsiCo is establishing a fellowship at Yale’s School of Medicine. And Yale is thrilled:

“PepsiCo’s commitment to improving health through proper nutrition is of great importance to the well-being of people in this country and throughout the world. We are delighted that they are expanding their research in this area and that they have chosen Yale as a partner for this endeavor,” said [Alpern].

How do you think he managed to say that with a straight face?

Give them two years to get established, and you’re going to start seeing studies out of Yale that “demonstrate” that neither sugary beverages nor artificial sweeteners create serious health risks, that while obesity (and that boogeyperson in the closet, “childhood obesity”) are still terrible for your health, junk food is not the major contributor to them.

Since Pepsi owns Frito-Lay, many low-nutrition snack foods will be exonerated as well. And since Pepsi owns Tropicana, headlines will proclaim that orange juice is not only a health food (which it is) but also a magical cure-all for something, probably but not certainly diabetes.

The disappearance of government research funds is one of the quieter issues of the economy, and (at least in the short term) not one of the most crucial ones: people are starving, dying from lack of access to health care, dying in war, dying of exposure on the street. Nonetheless, we cannot get good nutritional science from research done on PepsiCo;s dime, any more than we can get good agricultural science from Monsanto-supported Ph.D’s.

The networks don’t report the funding sources; the news doesn’t say how corporate research shapes results. So don’t believe it when the headlines tell you that both sugared and diet sodas are good for your health, especially when eaten with corn chips.

One Response to “How Sweet It Is: Pepsi Funds Diabetes/Obesity Research at Yale”

  1. Patsy Nevins Says:

    Soda & chips also won’t hurt your health a hell of a lot, unless they comprise your entire diet, which they do not for a majority of people. I drink soda & I eat chips, but I do not live on them or eat them every day & I eat a lot of other foods. It has, indeed, been well-established that whether or not one becomes diabetic has nothing to do with one’s sugar intake, ie., many diabetics never liked sweets much & many, such as my grandmother, who put 4 tsps of sugar in a cup of coffee & maybe loved chocolates (as well as fatty meats & baked goods cooked with lard) & managed to live to the age of 90, eat a lot of sugar & never develop diabetes. Indeed, we know now that Type II diabetics is even more heritable than type I. Does that mean that Pepsi is a likely source for health promotion? No, I am sure that they are not (though I do like Pepsi on occasion & love Tropicana OJ, as well as several flavors of Lay’s chips {which, btw, if you read the label, still contain decent amounts of several vitamins, etc., even if the potatoes have been fried). However, I do not believe in ‘junk food’, in ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, or indeed in demonizing food. I do believe, of course, that Pepsi, along with KFC, Mickey D’s, Subway, etc., wants to rehabilitate their public image & hop on board the very long, tiresome, generally STUPID, “Let’s all listen to nannies telling us how to live” health train, in order to be seen as more acceptable to more people. It is all about profit & always has been, always will be, & I have to agree that Pepsi, just like everyone else, will not hesitate to demonize fat & throw us fat people under the train.

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