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Coca-Cola Partnership Hits a Nerve

Elyas Bakhtiari, for HealthLeaders Media, November 5, 2009

What I find interesting about this controversy is what it says about the changes in medical priorities and physician culture. Physicians have always been conscious about corporate influences on public health, and there has always been a line that most doctor organizations won't cross. For instance, Henley says the AAFP wouldn't have had a similar partnership with companies that produce tobacco products or alcoholic beverages.

It appears that there is now disagreement about where that line should be drawn; or perhaps the line has already moved and the AAFP hasn't realized it yet. For many providers, obesity has become priority number one when it comes to improving the overall health of their patients.

On the surface, the AAFP partnership is harmless enough, and they'll probably produce quality health content, particularly after the initial pressure from members. But in the near future, the alliance may be viewed with the same bewilderment and disappointment as the partnerships between physicians and tobacco companies from way back, when doctors hawked mild cigarettes before knowing the true health consequences.

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Elyas Bakhtiari is a freelance editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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