The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has just released the findings of an extensive investigation that clearly demonstrates the strong — and disturbing — ties between British public health experts and the food industry.
This parallels how Big Food and Big Soda have also enmeshed themselves within health organizations, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- “The BMJ has found that for more than a decade funding from industry has flowed to scientists involved with the research unit. Scientists working on Medical Research Council (MRC) projects have received research funding from organisations including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, Weight Watchers International, NutriLicious (a public relations firm specialising in conveying “nutrition and health messages” for the food industry), Sainsbury’s, W K Kellogg Institute, and GlaxoSmithKline.
- “A clue to why so many global companies with nutritionally contentious products feel the need to fund research and invite public health experts onto their advisory boards and into their boardrooms as consultants—and why they have been prepared to engage in the UK with the government’s responsibility deal—can be found in two of the most recent annual submissions to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.”
- “By law, for the benefit of investors, companies must submit a 10 K form to the commission listing all the risk factors a company faces. It is clear from the most recent submissions by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that these sugary drink manufacturers live in fear of two things: ongoing research into the health effects of their products and the threat of health driven regulation and taxes.”
- “Coca-Cola’s submission noted that bad publicity resulting from such research or new warnings on labels or at point of sale could raise “consumer concerns, whether or not valid,” about the health implications of consuming ingredients such as sugar. As a consequence, “demand for our products could decline and we could be subject to lawsuits or new regulations that could affect sales of our products.”
- “Coca-Cola is equally aware of the threat to its bottom line, listing on its form “Obesity, poor diets and inactive lifestyles” among six key challenges and risks to its business: ‘There is growing concern among consumers, public health professionals and government agencies about the health problems associated with obesity, which results from poor diets that are too high in calories combined with inactive lifestyles. This concern represents a significant challenge to our industry.”