Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fat Profits

The food, beverage, and chain restaurant industries say they’re on the side of health, but their actions show otherwise. Overweight people make up almost a third of the world's population or two billion, according to a study in the medical journal The Lancet. Worldwide, the prevalence of obese and overweight adults had grown by 28 percent over the three decades, and by nearly 50 percent among children. Since 1980, obesity has soared in all countries, especially among children. A survey of 188 nations compiled by US health researchers  concludes that no country has turned the tide on obesity since 1980. More than half of those persons rated as overweight or obese live in 10 countries, topped by the United States.

Excess body weight had also led to 3.4 million deaths worldwide in 2010, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

The food and beverage industry spends approximately $2 billion per year marketing to children. The fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. Kids watch an average of over ten food-related ads every day (nearly 4,000/year) Nearly all (98 percent) of food advertisements viewed by children are for products that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. Most (79 percent) are low in fiber. A study conducted by Prevention Institute in 2007, found that over half of the most aggressively marketed children's foods advertising fruit on the packaging actually contain no fruit ingredients whatsoever. A 2011 review found that “company pledges to reduce food marketing of unhealthy products have failed to protect children aged under 12 years for all types of marketing practices promoting such foods”.

Pepsi and Coke say they are removing sugar drinks from schools and giving parents better information...So why are they suing health departments trying to give families more information about sodas? The American Beverage Industry (ABA) has begun a series of legal attacks against several health departments over efforts to educate communities about limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Food companies like Kraft and Campbell's say they are removing salt from their products in support of customer's health...Yet they put the salt right back in when profits start to waver with Campbell's adding salt back to its soups to increase sales.

Food companies say they are developing new package labels because they want to help customers make more healthful choices...So why are they using the front of packaging to deceive and confuse customers into believing their junk food products are healthy? 84% of "better for you" products studied didn't meet basic nutritional standards.

Kellogg's says they will only market healthy cereals to kids...But further investigation shows most cereals marketed to children are still junk.

Beverage companies agreed to stop promoting their products in commercials during kid's television shows. Coca-Cola and Pepsi agreed to stop marketing to children under 12 worldwide...Instead, they place Cokes on prime-time shows like American Idol where the average child views four Coke appearances every week. Beverage companies use product placement during kids' favorite shows to get around regulation.

Fast food companies say they want to offer more nutritious options for children...So why are they working behind the scenes to prohibit laws aimed at improving public health? Fast food companies convincing state legislature's to pass laws which would prohibit local governments from passing laws aimed at improving public health (such as happy meal toy bans and trans fat regulations)

The food and beverage industry says they want to be part of the solution by only marketing healthful foods to kids...So why are they conducting bogus studies, and pre-empting government regulation with their own weaker standards to assure that they can still market unhealthful products? Industry conducted a study to show that if the government's proposed voluntary guidelines on food marketing to children were implemented there would be a loss of 74,000 jobs and $28 million in revenue.

A study looked at the front-of-package labeling on fifty-eight "Better-for-You" children's products. The nutritional content was compared against nutritional criteria derived from the US Dietary Guidelines and the National Academies of Science. In spite of the claims on the labels, study findings reveal:

More than half (57%) of the study products qualified as high sugar; 95% of products contained added sugar
More than half (53%) were low in fiber.
More than half (53%) of products did not contain any fruits or vegetables; of the fruits and vegetables found, half came from just 2 ingredients - tomatoes and corn.
24% of prepared foods were high in saturated fats.
More than 1/3 (36%) of prepared foods & meals were high in sodium
21% contained artificial coloring.-additives with potentially harmful health impacts, while offering no benefits whatsoever

 Klim McPherson of Oxford University said "Politicians can no longer hide behind ignorance and confusion," but he is under the naive impression that government are not subject to the corporations interests.

In 1977, in the US, the McGovern Report warned about an impending obesity epidemic and suggested revised USDA guidelines to recommend people eat less foods high in fat and sugar. The egg, sugar and other Big Food industries, seeing a risk to profits, demanded that guidelines not say "eat less" of the offending foods but rather eat more "low-fat" foods.  A capitulation to the food industry.

In 2006, the United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO) released similar food recommendations and then Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tommy G. Thompson actually flew to Geneva to inform WHO that if the guidelines stood, the US would withdraw its WHO financial support. Another food industry victory.

In 2010, the food and beverage industry spent over $40 billion lobbying Congress against  regulation including those that would decrease the marketing of unhealthy foods to kids, and potential soda taxes.

Big Food continues to peddle pathology with impunity, spending millions targeting children with junk food advertisements and even co-opting "respected" scientific bodies. Professor Ian McDonald, chair of the UK's Scientific Advisory Committee on nutrition, who has admitted to receiving substantial amounts in research funding from Coca-Cola and Mars, declared that his board will ignore the new guidance from the WHO on sugar limits.

Our definition of healthful food should not be limited to the nutrients that a food contains but recognize that healthful food comes from a food system where food is produced, processed, transported, and marketed in ways that are environmentally sound, sustainable and just. The current industrial food system, with its heavy reliance on fossil fuels, pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics, and intensive farming practices fails to meet this standard. It pollutes the air, water, and soil, harms farm animals, and endangers the health of those who work to feed us.

While the destructive food system impacts everyone, it effects more than others. Small and mid-size farmers are struggling to survive in the face of large-scale industrial agriculture-farming families are more likely to live in poverty. In cruel irony, many farm workers do not earn enough wages to put healthful food on their own families'  tables. Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are hit hard too; in these communities unhealthful, highly processed foods are heavily promoted, ubiquitous, and cheap, while healthful, wholesome food is often inaccessible.

Many large food and beverage manufacturers distract the public from the dangers of the food system by deceptively marketing products as "green" or "natural" and by using misleading health claims that allow highly processed foods to masquerade as healthful. In reality, the health-giving properties of food come from whole and minimally processed foods - mostly from plants - that contain a wide variety of naturally occurring nutrients. Wholesome food should be freely available and accessible to everyone.

From here, and here

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