Coca Cola health research funding revealed

The figure includes $77,467 donated to Diabetes Auckland, now part of Diabetes New Zealand. Photo / iStock
The figure includes $77,467 donated to Diabetes Auckland, now part of Diabetes New Zealand. Photo / iStock

Coca-Cola has revealed how much money it stumps up to fund health research in New Zealand.

The company said on its new transparency website that it had donated $421,970 to health and wellbeing research and partnerships in New Zealand over the past six years.

The figure includes $77,467 donated to Diabetes Auckland, now part of Diabetes New Zealand, and $15,000 to sponsor Massey University's Symposium for Nutrition for Exercise and Performance.

Coca-Cola South Pacific president Roberto Mercade said the move comes after the company last year published a list of the research and partnerships it had funded in the United Kingdom and the United States.

He said he believed publishing the information was "the right thing to do".

"We have financially supported partnerships and research with third party experts to improve our understanding of the role our drinks play in people's diets and the benefits of physical activity, alongside a balanced diet.

"I acknowledge that some people have questioned whether this work is appropriate and sufficiently open, and whether we have best explained what our involvement is.

"That's why today we are publishing a list of the partnerships and research activities on health and wellbeing-related matters we fund in New Zealand, dating back to 2010. This is the start of a process to share this information globally and the information published will be updated every 12 months."

Mr Mercade said most of Coke's funding in New Zealand went to partnership programmes with community organisations, public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

"These are primarily local community projects designed to have the most positive impact possible in the communities they operate in."

He said the company also supported scientific research to better understand the role Coke's drinks played in people's diets and consumer behaviour, including physical activity and lifestyle behaviours.

"When we do fund research, the recipients of our funding have full control over the work they do, which is objective and independent, and we expect they do disclose this funding source in any publication in which it appears."

Diabetes NZ chief executive Steve Crew told Fairfax that Diabetes Auckland had accepted the funding when it was a separate entity.

The relationship with Coca-Cola ended when regional diabetes charities merged into Diabetes NZ in 2012.

Mr Crew said Diabetes NZ had a clear policy on sponsorship and Coke did not "meet our values and ethical standards".

A Massey University spokesman told Fairfax the university had no problem with public-private partnerships.

- NZ Herald

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