A study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization has found that tackling the fast food industry via regulation is a powerful factor in improving public health.
“Unless governments take steps to regulate their economies, the invisible hand of the market will continue to promote obesity worldwide with disastrous consequences for future public health and economic productivity,” said lead author Dr Roberto De Vogli from the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of California, Davis, in the United States.”
“The new study echoes a growing body of literature providing evidence for measures that governments could take to reverse the obesity epidemic by hindering the spread of ultra-processed foodstuffs. Such measures include:
- economic incentives for growers to sell healthy foods and fresh food items rather than ultra-processed foods and subsidies to grow fruit and vegetables;
- economic disincentives for industries to sell fast food, ultra-processed foods and soft drinks such as an ultra-processed food tax and/or the reduction or elimination of subsidies to growers/companies using corn for rapid tissue growth, excessive amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals and antibiotics;
- zoning policies to control the number and type of food outlets;
- tighter regulation of the advertising of fast food and soft drinks, especially to children;
- trade regulations discouraging the importation and consumption of fast food, ultra-processed foods and soft drinks; and
- more effective labelling systems especially for ultra-processed foods, including fast food and soft drinks.”
While many health organizations and experts stress the importance of holding industry accountable and identify its role in our world population’s worsening health, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics continues to stand by its Big Food and Big Soda partnerships (McDonald’s is once again the gold sponsor at this year’s California Dietetic Association meeting, by the way).