Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be room for another food industry front group, the Back to Balance Coalition (BBC) pops up.
The BBC — which lists the American Bakers Association, the American Meat Institute, the Corn Refiners Association, the National Confectioners Association (the candy lobby) and the Sugar Association among some of its members — “brings together food and beverage organizations, health advocacy groups, and nutrition professionals who are supporters of balance, variety and moderation in dietary guidance. The group aims to bring forward common sense, practicality, economic, and cultural relevance into federal Dietary Guidelines.”
Leave it to the food industry to appoint itself as the sole definer of what constitutes balance, variety, and moderation.
Embarrassingly, the coalition name-checks the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as one health organization that supports the “all foods fit” approach to healthful eating, further solidifying the fact that the Academy ultimately enables and emboldens the food industry’s problematic ‘health’ messaging.
The coalition also relies on another common industry talking point: “empowering choice is more effective than restricting it,” claiming that “instead of teaching people what not to eat, dietary guidance should focus on providing practical ‘how to’ advice.”
Right, because the “let’s ignore the reality that some foods are much less healthy than others” approach to dietary guidance that is pervasive in the United States has worked out so well.
Industry balks at useful dietary suggestions like avoiding soda, limiting added sugar, and limiting fast food because it ultimately hurts profits. Industry prefers euphemisms like “at fast food restaurants, choose lower-calorie options” (as if ingredients didn’t matter, and as if health were strictly about calorie counting) or “all beverages, even soft drinks, contribute to hydration” (as opposed to “choose water over soft drinks”).
Funny how this coalition, which claims to be so concerned with “empowering consumers” is made up of the same trade groups that have banded together to prevent the inclusion of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label.
Let’s also remember that these are the same industry groups that, in the past, fought against soda taxes, defeated a federal attempt at setting voluntary standards for marketing foods to children, and employed lobbyists to shape the new school lunch rules.
We much prefer Brazil’s dietary guidelines, which don’t bow down to food industry interests (what a concept!).
The good news? This is all a clear sign that industry is panicked. There is no denying that sales of highly processed foods are down, and this is one of many desperate attempts at trying to put out a fire that only appears to continue to grow.