Another day, another article that highlights how the food industry — including Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics partners Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, and Kellogg’s — actively blocks the implementation of policies meant to provide more clear information to consumers about the healthfulness, or lack thereof of what they are eating.
Patrick Mustain writes the following in his latest Scientific American blog post:
“Every time some pesky public health advocate wants to try to reform the food environment, the industry starts to shriek about limiting choices and taking away people’s freedom. New York City’s attempt to remove “bucket” as an acceptable size for sugary drinks is probably the most prominent example of this playing out, but it happens all the time.
Mountains of research indicate that if nothing is done to change our food environment, obesity and chronic disease will continue to rise, leading to unsustainable burdens on health care systems and economies worldwide.”
“But when these policies come to a vote, the industry spends millions on lobbyists who shout: “Consumers need education, not government meddling!” Bordering on religious devotion, this concern for the interests of the well-informed consumer would be almost admirable, were it not so glaringly inconsistent.”
One highly debated topic is what to do with the front of food packages; more specifically, what labeling system, if any, to implement. One option many health advocates call for is a traffic light system (i.e.: a high amount of fiber would garner a green light; a high amount of added sugar would garner a red light). Recent research has determined that traffic light systems are well understood by shoppers — and that they deliver important information.
So why is the food industry fighting that at every turn? Mustain theorizes that, “based on their fight against the recent attempt to include added sugars on back-of package nutrition labels, it’s a safe bet that the food industry does not want consumers to realize just how unhealthy most of the foods they are buying truly are.”