Coke Tries to Back Away from “Exercise is Medicine”

The American College of Sports Medicine has claimed that Coca-Cola will no longer fund “Exercise is Medicine.” In addition, Coca-Cola has gone missing from the ACSM’s sponsor section. The Coke-ACSM partnership, nearly a decade old, may be ending.

You can’t say we didn’t warn you.

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This past weekend the American College of Sports Medicine released a statement proclaiming,

EIM also announced that the funding sponsorship with The Coca-Cola Company is complete … The transition concludes Coke’s funding relationship with ACSM and the EIM Global Center.

Nonetheless, ACSM pledges that EIM will proceed without its “first founding partner.” For more information on what ACSM is trying to accomplish with EIM, see here.

EIM Joins Growing List of Former Coca-Cola-Funded Organizations

Over the past year, journalists and public health activists have paid increasing attention to Big Soda’s relationship with health organizations.  The Global Energy Balance Network story was the foremost example of this.

For Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the health organizations they sponsor, public scrutiny keeps increasing. And a growing list of organizations no longer receives funds from Coca-Cola.

In the past year, Coca-Cola sponsorship deals have ended with at least seven prominent organizations:

Exercise is Medicine
Global Energy Balance Network (defunct)
University of Colorado
American College of Cardiology
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The American Academy of Family Physicians
The American Academy of Pediatrics


1.  Coca-Cola may still pay ACSM and EIM officials 

The announcement only covered the “Exercise is Medicine” program, not the ACSM as a whole, or ACSM officials.

Dr. Robert Sallis runs “Exercise is Medicine” and Coca-Cola still includes him on its list of funded experts. And Dr. Steven Blair, the founder of the Global Energy Balance Network, is on the EIM Advisory Board. Blair has received over $5 million dollars from Coca-Cola in just the past five years.

For Coca-Cola, funding the EIM leadership may be a less conspicuous way to support EIM and ACSM.

2. Coca-Cola may still fund other countries’ EIM programs

The ACSM release has an important exemption:

… countries around the world adopting the EIM program function independently from ACSM and will continue to determine their own policies regarding structure, partnerships and operations

For example, in 2014 Coke funded an EIM program at Fukuoka University in Japan. Forty-three countries have EIM programs. Excluding the U.S., therefore, 42 other EIM programs may still receive Coca-Cola dollars. We have already found evidence of Coke funding EIM programs in 7 other countries.

3. PepsiCo still funds ACSM and other organizations

ACSM’s partnership with Big Soda continues. Gatorade has sponsored the ACSM for at least 23 years, and is still listed in ACSM’s sponsor section. PepsiCo owns Gatorade. Similarly, while the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Coke deal has terminated, it still accepts Pepsi funding.

As long as the disastrous #PepsiACSM partnership lives on, CrossFit Inc. will have an ethical duty to expose it.


  1. Pingback: Coca-Cola Buckles to Pressure, Curtails “Science” Payments | THE RUSSELLS

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