Several nutrition and fitness experts wrote articles that appeared on blogs and newspaper websites in February.
Many of those "Heart Health & Black History Month" articles suggested drinking a mini can of Coca-Cola.
About 1,000 blogs and websites touted "portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal."
"We have a network of dietitians we work with. Every big brand works with bloggers or has paid talent," Ben Sheidler, a Coca-Cola spokesman, told the Associated Press.
Kelloggs, General Mills, PepsiCo and the American Pistachio Growers have all worked with third parties to promote their products.
Some pro-Coke pieces were noted as "sponsored articles," but some were not. Some of the authors mentioned they were a "consultant" for the soda company, while other articles claimed the Coke drinks (and other food) were their own ideas.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claims that its members can endorse products "only in a manner that is not false and misleading," while Dietitians for Professional Integrity wants more ethical lines between dietitians and companies.
A Coke mini has 90 calories, less than the 140 calories in a regular size Coke.
"I absolutely think that I provided valuable information," Robyn Flipse, a dietitian who wrote a sponsored article for Coke, told the Associated Press.
Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, a dietitian who wrote an article mentioning Coke mini, couldn't recall if Coca-Cola paid her or not.
“The health and wellness trend has set up, almost teed up, a tremendous opportunity for the Coca-Cola brand with our smaller packages,” Coke’s North America president Sandy Douglas said in November 2014, noted the Wall Street Journal.
However, Slate.com compared Coke mini, which debuted in December 2014, to smoking light cigarettes because the product is the same, just in smaller amounts.
The Harvard School of Public Health states on its website, "Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic."