In this op-ed titled “Big Food: Sounds a Lot Like Big Tobacco,” Center for Science in the Public Interest Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson draws several parallels between the two industries.
- “The similarities between unhealthy food and tobacco go beyond the health effects. When it comes to corporate responsibility, executives at some of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies seem to have learned a lot from their counterparts at Big Tobacco in aggressively promoting consumption of unhealthy foods and, in the same breath, blaming the consumer.”
- “While we need food to live, we certainly don’t need many of the junk foods — many aimed at kids — served up by food processors and restaurants. Soda and other sugary drinks, in particular, are one category of food that does far more harm than good. “
- “Besides denying the connections between their products and disease, food and tobacco companies both use the same language to blame their customers for the harm caused by their products.”
- “Joe Camel, the cartoon animal used to attract children to cigarettes, was retired in 1997, under pressure from state attorneys general. A master settlement agreement between the AGs and the tobacco industry eliminated much of that industry’s advertising to children, and even disbanded the Tobacco Institute, an aggressive industry lobbying force. But the food industry still uses cartoon characters to market disease-causing products to children, and food industry trade groups still devote millions to block progress and defend the status quo.”
Note that both of the food companies name-checked in this article — Coca-Cola and McDonald’s — have ties to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Coca-Cola is an AND corporate sponsor, and McDonald’s sponsors several state-level dietetic associations.
That is why we say that AND’s current corporate partners are the modern equivalent of the American Medical Association taking money from Big Tobacco several decades ago.