November 12, 2009
Harvard Nutrition Expert Offers Family Physician Group No-Cost Alternative To Funding From Coca-Cola
Free link to science-based content on HSPH's popular nutrition source website suggested
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.
On the Net:
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.