Greg Glassman’s Full Comment on Coca-Cola and Nick Jonas

Editor’s Note: This article by Russ Greene is the first to publicly release Greg Glassman’s full email to ABC’s Good Morning America regarding Coca-Cola and the musician whose concerts it sponsors, Nick Jonas. Greg’s email is quoted halfway down.

Last week CrossFit posted a modified Coca-Cola ad that warned, Open Diabetes.

Compelling statistical evidence supports CrossFit’s campaign to prevent diabetes by raising awareness about its causes. Yet Coca-Cola’s funded entities, such as the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, have confused the public about their products’ fatal side effects. Incidentally, 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and the CDC predicts that at least 1/3 of Americans will have Type 2 diabetes by 2050.

When we posted this image, we had no idea how Coca-Cola’s sponsored entities would respond. We definitely weren’t expecting the image to appear on “Good Morning America.” Nonetheless, the audience is appreciated.

It all started with a Jonas Brother. Nick Jonas, a singer and Type 1 diabetic whose concerts are sponsored by Coca-Colatweeted his objections to CrossFit’s diabetes awareness campaign.

We responded on Twitter by pointing out that Coca-Cola sponsors Jonas’ concerts. In addition, we wondered why Jonas acted so insensitively toward Type 2 diabetics.

Matt Knox of “Good Morning America” contacted CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman and asked him for a response. Greg responded,,

Hi, Matt,
Fuck Nick Jonas.
This is about the scourge of Type 2 Diabetes and its underlying causes. His sponsor, Coca-Cola, is a significant contributor to the diabetes epidemic both with product and “marketing” spend.
Greg Glassman CEO
CrossFit Inc

“Good Morning America” did not run Greg’s full response on air. In turn, Jonas’ representative denied that Jonas has ever “had a deal or sponsorship with Coca-Cola.”

Coca-Cola’s denial was more circumspect. The corporation did not deny sponsoring Jonas’ concerts but instead responded to an issue that Greg did not raise. Coca-Cola told ABC that Jonas is “not a paid spokesman for the company.” That may be true, but CrossFit never claimed Jonas was a Coca-Cola spokesman; CrossFit claimed Jonas was sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Nick Jonas and Coca-Cola failed to do the right thing. They had an ethical obligation to come clean about their sponsor relationship. And this despite the easily available evidence that Coca-Cola sponsors Jonas’ concerts. Here are some recent Jonas appearances “presented” or “sponsored” by Coca-Cola:

November 15, 2014 in Little Rock, AR
February 5, 2015 in Atlanta, GA
February 6, 2015 in Houston, TX
February 7, 2015 in Rosemont, IL
February 8, 2015 in Seatlle, WA

We haven’t yet seen a message from Coca-Cola to Jonas directing him to defend the company against CrossFit’s Open Diabetes image. That said, Jonas and Coca-Cola’s refusal to admit their commercial relationship is in itself suspicious. What are they trying to hide?

Jonas’ diverted the conversation away from Coca-Cola’s links to diabetes by falsely accusing CrossFit of insulting Type 1 diabetics. The argument goes that since CrossFit didn’t specify that Coke is related to Type 2 diabetes, it implied that soda causes Type 1 diabetes. And so Type 1 diabetics began attacking CrossFit Inc.

About 90-95 percent of adult American diabetes cases are Type 2. And when CrossFit discusses diabetes prevention, it’s talking about the 90-95 percent of cases that are preventable (Type 2), not the 5-10 percent that are unpreventable (Type 1).

After Jonas opposed CrossFit’s post about Coca-Cola and diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association fanned the flames. Coca-Cola funds both. We will address them and their denial that Coca-Cola causes diabetes in an upcoming post.

To conclude, we urge Good Morning America to amend its story by disclosing Coca-Cola’s commercial relationship with Nick Jonas. GMA has not yet responded to our private emails in this regard. ABC’s coverage thus remains partial.

28 comments

  1. “His sponsor, Coca-Cola, is a significant contributor to the diabetes epidemic both with product and “marketing” spend.”

    Correction; people unable to exercise self-control (or perhaps people unwilling to exercise, period) are the major contributor’s. Coca-Cola (the product) is an inanimate object. It cannot, on it’s own, contribute to anything. People (i.e., consumers) are the actors. Coca-Cola (the company) is an entity that reacts to consumer demand. And this is not analogous to cigarette consumption in the 1950s; people are, or should be, well aware of the problems with over-consumption of certain products, such as soda.

    To blame an entity or the product it supplies to meet the demand of consumers well aware of the potential dangers of over-consuming that product is ridiculous.

      • Corporations deliberately manufacture demand and employ psychologists to research and determine the best ways to influence the public’s buying behavior, including tactics that exploit emotional vulnerabilities to circumvent critical thinking or influence (children’s) behavior before critical thought develops. Sugar water is inanimate. The people selling it are not. They can and do contribute directly and deliberately to the sale and habitual consumption of their product.

    • People don’t understand about how Coke causes health problems because they don’t understand the causative relationship between soda and diabetes. To be fair, scientists probably don’t fully understand it either, but there are clear pathways that are at least partially involved. For instance, someone with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is more likely to become T2. Excess of fructose in the absence of significant choline is a known cause of NAFLD in both rats and human beings. The media don’t tell you this. They paint the issue of drinking soda as a matter of calories and blame obesity for the advent of T2, just like you’re doing, and of course “consuming too many calories causes” obesity in the mainstream view. But it’s not that simple, and slender people who exercise are turning up with T2, and they’re being underdiagnosed because the public would rather shit on fat people. Including, apparently, you.

      And the real pisser about NAFLD is not only that it turns up in slender people but also that it’s silent. It won’t show up on labs til it starts causing fibrosis and the patient is already at pretty serious risk with their liver health. MRIs will catch it early, but they’re expensive and again, typically, even if they were a regular diagnostic tool for NAFLD, doctors would target fat people for scanning and an entire population would go undiagnosed.

      Docs don’t ask you what your fructose and choline consumption are like at your annual checkups. And I rather suspect that most Americans don’t get annual checkups.

      Eating an excess of eggs does not cause diabetes. You could not possibly come up with any pathway that would make scientific sense to prove that they do. So let’s say you’ve got a person who can’t control themselves eating eggs but they don’t like drinking soda. If lack of self-control caused diabetes, it wouldn’t matter what the person was eating, the eggs would wreck their blood sugar response. But that’s not actually what would happen. So you can moralize all you want but chemicals have consequences, some good, some bad. Fructose is almost completely bad.

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    • Because when people do over consume sugar, it is in liquid form. Coke is king of all liquid sugar. It is not coincidental that Coke sponsors ACSM, and that is also the point. The big sugar industry is buying science research to perpetuate it’s profit. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

  4. spqrmagazine

    Let’s not f@ck around and ask Greg Glassman if all CrossFitters competing in The Games are steroid free… When we seeing official test results and sanctioning by international doping bodies like WADA.

  5. Nick Jonas response had nothing to do with him singing at event sponsored by Coke and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that he is a type 1 diabetic. The majority of Americans don’t know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Mainly because the media simply uses the word diabetes when referring to type 2 diabetes and make no mention of type 1 diabetes. I have a 13 year old daughter who is a type 1 diabetic and we have people come up to us on a weekly basis who make uneducated (I like to think they have good intentions and aren’t ignorant) comments and questions. Some of those comments/questions include “but you’re so thin!”, “did you eat too much sugar?”, “you really need to watch what you eat!”, “she’s too young for that!” and “I know a cure for that.” Sometimes we don’t get comments just dirty looks and whispers. We have learned to kindly educate with a smile on our faces, but it gets old especially for a child. This disease requires 24-7 management with no end. Not to mention 20% of type 2 diabetics are NOT obese. You have no idea why it is offensive because you don’t have to deal with this disease on a daily basis. If you did you would completely understand why it was so upsetting. It was obvious that they meant type 2 diabetics. I know that because I live with a type 1 diabetic, but the majority of people don’t. The easy and smart thing CrossFit should have done was simply say sorry if some people were offended we meant type 2 diabetes and left it at that. Instead there response was immature and tactless. Any bad PR they got was because of them and 0% from Coca Cola. To be honest Coca Cola is probably sitting back smiling and happy for all the free publicity/advertising they got out of this.

    • Russ Greene

      Ingrid,
      How can you be certain that Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of Jonas’ concerts had nothing to do with his decision to oppose CrossFit’s image of a modified Coca-Cola ad?

      I am very sorry about your daughter. Let me give you an analogy. I had seizures growing up due to epilepsy. Health class and anti-drug ads warned that drugs can cause seizures. This didn’t bother me in the least because I knew they weren’t talking about my type of seizures, and I realized it was important for people to know the risks of toxic substances. The same situation applies with soda. There are millions dying yearly from poor lifestyle choices, and the vast majority of diabetics are type 2. These are preventable deaths.

      • I am very sorry about your epilepsy, but the analogy doesn’t work. Did strangers come up to your parents and tell them that they shouldn’t have given you drugs? Or that your parents drug use caused your epilepsy? Did family members offer well meaning advice on what kind of drugs your parents shouldn’t have given you? Or did you get Reader’s Digest/okra recipes/cinnamon recipes/etc handed to you so you could cure your drug use? If this didn’t happen to you or your parents at least once a month since your first seizure, then you don’t know what people with type 1 diabetes and their families go thru. I am old enough that I don’t know much about Nick Jonas, but I bet he was honestly trying to stand up for people with type 1, not stand up for Coke or put down people with type 2. Shaming anyone about their disease is NOT OK. Promoting ignorance about any disease is NOT OK.

        Now I have an analogy for you. Type 2 diabetes is like having bad knees, maybe you inherited your bad knees. You might be thin and in shape, but your knees are wearing out at a rate that is faster than other peoples. At first, joint supplements, diet, exercise and some pain meds work, but eventually you may need replacement. Or maybe you are overweight, don’t exercise and are wearing your knees out from abuse. If you lost weight and exercised, you would take the stress off your knees and extend their life by years. Type 1 diabetes is like someone blowing your f#*@ing knees off with a shotgun.

  6. I have a son with Type 1 DIABETES. He has never consumed cola cola in his life. He was a happy healthy active 8 year old, and then then he was sick. It has nothing to do with his sugar intake, he is an extremely healthy eater. When these links are made by ill informed individuals, it saddens me. Nick Jonas brings some media attention to an illness that is misunderstood. Mr. Glassman does not realize that I get up twice a night to test my son so he does not fall into a diabetic seizure. It is not a joke.

    • Russ Greene

      Daphne,
      Neither CrossFit nor Greg Glassman has ever claimed that Type 1 diabetes is due to sugar intake.

      We tied Coca-Cola to diabetes, much as health activists tie smoking to cancer. I’ve not seen anyone get mad because not all types of cancer are caused by smoking. Many children get cancer without smoking, for example.

      I suppose that no one complains about these anti-tobacco campaigns because they realize that tobacco has killed millions, and it’s important to prevent further casualties through direct messages. Well, the same is true for added sugar / soda.

  7. Some drugs cause epilepsy, smoking causes some types of cancer. Here’s how that is different: There is not already a social stereotype that people with epilepsy and cancer patients deal with. There IS certainly a stereotype that Type 1 diabetics deal with – that we caused our own disease. Campaigns such as the one that CrossFit is promoting encourages that stereotype. We are well aware that our type of diabetes accounts for a small portion of all diabetes cases. HOWEVER, much of the public does not realize that. We are constantly chastised for “eating too much sugar”. Images such as the one that CrossFit posted contribute to the stereotype that all diabetics are created equally. That is not the case.

    I have been a member of the CrossFit community for over 6 years and have faithfully supported CrossFit. But the lack of understanding, lack of empathy, lack of compassion shown here, is not characteristic of the community that existed 6 years ago. I am against the sugar industry and I support the cause. But the manner in which it is being carried out is completely unacceptable and very disappointing.

    • Russ Greene

      Catherine,
      I am not sure that lung cancer, for example, is free from social stereotypes.

      10-20% of lung cancer cases aren’t due to smoking, just as 5-10% of adult diabetes cases are unpreventable Type-1 in this country.

      Since the majority of lung cancer cases are related to smoking, many would assume that a non-smoker with lung cancer had smoked. This would be a false, and possibly hurtful assumption.

      And yet, does that case invalidate all the messages that tie cancer, or even lung cancer specifically, to smoking?

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  10. suizou

    I’ve suffered Type 1 Diabetes for thirty years, and I never drank Coke… or Pepsi, or any of the others. F‐U, Greg Assman.

  11. But these are children and that is the major difference. Children who face bullying because according to society hey are something to be scorned. Children who develop eating disorders because they believe what they are told by mis-informed adults. Know amount of telling a child that society is wrong will change there view that they are right because society is a big thing and parents in comparison can appear smaller. Children who want to deny there diabetes because they don’t want ridicule become children who are very seriously ill indeed. This maybe a hard concept for you to understand you may stand there and say oh but it’s only a tweet but it’s a tweet to two million people all of whom have now received misinformation which will be joined by more misinformation which will be passed to the children there friends there family and will encourage scorn of all diabetics regardless of type because in the brains of many there is no distinction. As a company that promotes health you should see this distinction and make it clear to people of the truth.

  12. “Compelling statistical evidence supports CrossFit’s campaign to prevent diabetes by raising awareness about its causes.”

    If CrossFit’s campaign is that sugar causes type 2 diabetes… Actually, it doesn’t.

    The study you cite ONLY looks at statistics for countries as a whole. It did not look at the individual cases of diabetes or account of ethnicity differences. It also assumed the reporting of diabetes, physical activity, smoking rates and obesity are accurate in all those countries. Are you really going to say Bangladesh or the other 3rd world countries used in this study have the same robust disease reporting as the US or EU countries? They don’t. Thus using this study to say, conclusively, that sugar consumption causes diabetes is dishonest, incorrect and misleading.

    Plus according to the CDC, NIH and every other government agency, sugar intake is NOT associated with type 2 diabetes.
    CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prevention.html
    NIH: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/causes-diabetes/Pages/index.aspx#type2
    “Scientific evidence indicates that diets high in sugars do not cause hyperactivity or diabetes. The most common type of diabetes occurs in overweight adults. Avoiding sugars alone will not correct overweight. To lose weight reduce the total amount of calories from the food you eat and increase your level of physical activity.” http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga95/sugars.htm

    Pushing myths about type 2 diabetes does not help anyone.

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  14. CrossFit has been around for more than a decade. If Mr. Gassman was really concerned about sugar, why did he wait more than 10 years to attack and why did he single out Coke? That the timing coincides with Gassman’s attack on the NSCA and ACSM proposals regarding licensure for trainers and specifically targets one of their large advertisers is more than suspicious. If Mr. Gassman really disapproved of sugary soft drinks, he should have tweeted this years ago and he should have included ALL soft drink manufacturers.

    If CFHQ staff and seminar lecturers REALLY believe that sugar is evil, why…..

    • Russ Greene

      Mr. Henry,
      Perhaps you are unaware, but CrossFit has advised consuming “no sugar” for well over a decade: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/start-how.html. This is not new.

      CrossFit merely wants to be able to continue offering this advice without Big Soda’s, or its sponsored entities’, interference.

      Cheat meals as you found of Nicole have been a part of CrossFit’s culture also since the beginning. The founding belief of these cheat meals is that sugar is unhealthy, and thus should be consumed only on occasions, not regularly.

      Lastly, we haven’t stated that sugar is “evil.”

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