Harvard nutrition expert offers family physician group no-cost alternative to funding from Coca-Cola

November 12, 2009

Boston, MA -- Leading Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) nutrition and health researcher Walter Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H., has written a letter to the President-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) offering an alternative to the organization's decision, announced in October, to accept a six-figure grant from the Coca-Cola Company to develop web content on beverages and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In his November 9, 2009 letter, Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at HSPH and a professor at Harvard Medical School, suggests that AAFP provide a link on its website to HSPH's popular Nutrition Source website (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource), which contains multiple pages of easy-to-read content for lay people on how to achieve a healthy diet.

The healthy beverages section of the site, "Choosing Healthy Drinks" (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/), offers advice on how to limit sugary beverage consumption and handy guidelines on the amount of calories and sugar in soda, juice and other popular drinks. It also offers lower-calorie beverage options as a way to decrease the risk of obesity.

"I'd like to offer your organization the opportunity to link to our website's content and return the funding to Coca-Cola," says Willett in the letter. (For a copy of the complete letter, go to http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/files/willett_coca_cola_letter_final.pdf). AAFP's announcement of its "alliance" with Coca-Cola is available here: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/media/releases/newsreleases-statements-2009/consumeralliance-cocacola.html

Willett agrees that it is important to provide information about how people can incorporate foods and drinks they love into an overall healthy lifestyle. He points out, however, that research overwhelmingly suggests that the consumption of sugar-laden sodas is a leading cause of obesity in the U.S. today and that children are particularly at risk.

Linking to content that has already been created and vetted by Harvard School of Public Health without industry funding would offer AAFP the opportunity to provide this information to those who visit their website almost immediately, Willett says.
-end-
Walter Willett is a leading researcher and promoter of healthy eating for healthier lifestyles. He is the author of several best-selling books, including Eat, Drink and Be Healthy; Eat, Drink and Weigh Less; and The Fertility Diet. He was a co-author, along with Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, and other researchers of the article, "The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages," which appeared in the October 15, 2009 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Willett for many years has been a leading proponent of successful efforts to get trans fat out of restaurant foods and to have trans fat content labeled on food packaging.

Harvard School of Public Health ( http://www.hsph.harvard.edu ) is dedicated to advancing the public's health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children's health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.