HuffPo 6.28.16 by Carey Gilliam “Beverage Industry Finds Friend Inside U.S. Health Agency“
.….A critical blow came last June when World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Margaret Chansaid the marketing of full-sugar soft drinkswas a key contributor to rising child obesity around the world, especially in developing countries. WHO published a new sugar guideline in March 2015, and Chan suggested restrictions on sugar-rich beverage consumption….
It’s no surprise that the beverage industry, which reaps billions of dollars annually from soft drink sales, has been fearing – and fighting against – this shifting sentiment.
But what is surprising is one of the places where the beverage industry has sought, and apparently garnered, some help —- from a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose mission in part is to prevent obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. [comment: yea, that’s not really a surprise for a lot of people!]
Email communicationsobtained by U.S. Right to Knowthrough state Freedom of Information requests detail how a leading beverage and food industry advocate last year was able to ask for and input and guidance from Dr. Barbara Bowman, director of CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, on how to address World Health Organization actions that were hurting the beverage industry.
But the emails between Bowman and Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola scientific and regulatory affairs leader and founder of the industry-funded International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), show that Bowman also appeared happy to help the beverage industry cultivate political sway with the World Health Organization….
“Any ideas how we can have a conversation with WHO?” Malaspina writesin a June 26, 2015 emailto Bowman. He forwards her an email string that includes top executives from Coca-Cola and ILSI and expresses worry about negative reports about products with high sugar content, and sugary soda tax plans in Europe. In the email string, Malaspina says the WHO actions can have “significant negative consequences on a global basis.”…
Directly he tells Bowman that officials at WHO “do not want to work with industry. And says: “Something must be done.”
Bowman replies that someone with Gates or “Bloomberg people” may have close connections that could open a door at WHO. She also suggests he try someone at PEPFAR program, a U.S. government-backed program that makes HIV/AIDS drugs available through the sub-Saharan Africa. She tells him that “WHO is key to the network.” She writes that she “will be in touch about getting together.”
In a subsequentJune 27, 2015 email, Malaspina thanks her for the “very good leads” and says “we would want WHO to start working with ILSI again… and for WHO to not only consider sugary foods as the only cause of obesity but to consider also the life style changes that have been occurring throughout the Universe.” He then suggests he and Bowman meet for dinner soon.
The fact that a high-level U.S. health official is communicating in this way with a beverage industry leader appears improper, according to Marion Nestle, author of the book“Soda Politics”and a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.
“These emails suggest that ILSI, Coca-Cola, and researchers funded by Coca-Cola have an ‘in’ with a prominent CDC official,” Nestle said. “The official appears to be interested in helping these groups organize opposition to “eat less sugar” and “disclose industry funding” recommendations. The invitation to dinner suggests a cozy relationship… This appearance of conflict of interest is precisely why policies for engagement with industry are needed for federal officials.”…
Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, said ILSI is a known “front group for the food industry.” Lustig said he finds it “interesting” that the CDC has yet to take a stance on limiting sugar consumption, despite the WHO concerns about links to disease. Lustig directs UCSF’s WATCH program (Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health), and is co-founder of the non-profit Institute for Responsible Nutrition.
Neither Bowman nor Malaspina responded to requests for comment….
In a February 2015 emailfrom Bowman to Malaspina she shared an email she had received from a USDA official with the subject line “FOR YOUR REVIEW: Draft Principles from Dec 8 Public Private Partnerships Meeting.” The email from David Klurfeld, national program leader for human nutrition at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, quoted an article from the BMJ medical journal stressing a need for public/private partnerships, and included a quote about a “strong tide of sanctimony in British public health.” Bowman tells Malaspina: “This may be of interest. Check out the BMJ correspondence especially.”
In a March 18, 2015 emailfrom Bowman to Malaspina she forwarded an email regarding the new policy brief to curb global sugar consumption she received from the World Cancer Research Fund International. Malaspina then shared the communications with Coca-Cola officials and others.
Bowman, who holds a PhD in human nutrition and nutritional biology, has worked at the CDC since 1992, and has held several senior leadership positions there. She was appointed director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at CDC in February 2013.
Malaspina has also had a long career in his field of expertise. The veteran Coca-Cola executive founded ILSI in 1978 with help from Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other food industry players and ran it until 1991. ILSI has had a long and checkered relationship with the World Health Organization, working at one time closely with its Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and with WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the International Programme on Chemical Safety.
But a reportby a consultant to WHOfound that ILSI was infiltrating WHO and FAO with scientists, money and research to garner favor for industry products and strategies. ILSI was also accused ofattempting to undermine WHOtobacco control efforts on behalf of the tobacco industry.
WHO eventually distanced itself from ILSI. But questions about ILSI influence erupted again this spring when scientists affiliated with ILSI participated in an evaluation of the controversial herbicide glyphosate, issuing a decision favorable to Monsanto Co. and the pesticide industry.
See follow up HuffPo article, 6.30.16 “CDC Official Exits Agency After Coca-Cola Connections Come to Light” HERE
Bowman’s exit was announced through internal emails. Bowman told colleagues in a CDC email sent Thursday that she had decided to retire “late last month.” She made no reference to the revelations about her connections with Coca-Cola or any other concerns.
Bauer sent a separate email applauding Bowman’s work with CDC. “Barbara has served with distinction and has been a strong, innovative, dedicated and supportive colleague. She will be greatly missed by our center and CDC,” Bauer said in the email.
The Coca-Cola connections date back decades for Bowman, and tie her to former top Coca-Cola executive and strategist Alex Malaspina. Malaspina, with Coca-Cola’s help, founded the controversial industry group International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). Bowman also worked early in her career as a senior nutritionist for Coca-Cola, according to sources, and she co-authored an edition of a book called Present Knowledge inNutrition as “a publication of the International Life Sciences Institute.”
Wonder what the esteemed Dr. Bowan will be doing in her retirement with her lifetime federal pension intact? Starting a second career in the private sector, collecting a big fat paycheck from Coca Cola or Monsanto in reward for her years of stellar service while at the CDC?
Given the above, it is reasonable to conclude that sugar and fat (in the CDC) are causers of chronic disease.
Unfortunately, I, like many people, know that fat in the CDC is a primary cause of chronic illness. See my communication with the CDC requesting that they stop funding industry fraud in U.S. physician education, which fraudulently naysays that disabilities are caused by biocontaminants in water damaged buildings.