Coca-Cola GB donated GBP50,000 to the National Obesity Forum

Coca-Cola GB donated GBP50,000 to the National Obesity Forum

The National Obesity Forum (NOF) in the UK has defended its decision to accept a GBP50,000 (US$80,604) donation from Coca-Cola GB.

The grant, donated earlier this year, will be used to develop part of the charity's website dedicated to the exploration of low-calorie, artificial sweeteners, it said today (14 July). The deal however, was made just months after the charity criticised plans from companies such as Coca-Cola to provide cash to back public health campaigns.

Nonetheless, NOF's chair of the board, Dr David Haslam, told just-drinks that the charity is prepared to "let the criticism ride" and is not embarrassed about accepting the donation.

"All the donations we receive are displayed on the website," Haslam said. "We took the donation for a specific piece of work we are doing on sweeteners. It's certainly not to endorse Coca-Cola, it is just a specific piece of work on sweeteners and demystifying sweeteners in drinks. If the opportunity arose to work with [Coca-Cola] again on something like that, we certainly would."

Many of Coca-Cola's drinks, such as Diet Coke, Fanta Orange Zero and Lilt Zero, include sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame-K and saccharin, all of which have been speculated to be linked to health concerns such as pancreas damage, cancer and premature births.

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola said: "Coca-Cola Great Britain (CCGB) and the National Obesity Forum share a common vision to ensure health care professionals are provided with educational resources to better understand the science around low and no calorie sweeteners and their role in the diet. CCGB provided the NOF with an educational fund at the beginning of this year to support its communications regarding low and no calorie sweeteners during 2011, including a refresh of the NOF website which is planned for later in the year.

"There is no product endorsement as part of this affiliation."