New research published in the Australia-New Zealand Journal of Public Health details ways in which “lobbyists for ‘big food’ are potentially swaying health policies in favour of their corporate bottom line.”
- “The research conducted interviews with 15 former politicians, current and former public servants and senior executive officers with non-government organisations over a four month period who had exposure to the industry’s “corporate political activity.”
- “The powerful junk food industry is highly political and uses carefully designed strategies to influence policy and public opinion in its favour. These tactics, often intentionally, undermine efforts to prevent and control obesity and diet-related disease,” said lead researcher Gary Sacks.
- “Interviewees identified five key types of political activity: information and messaging. financial incentives, constituency building, policy substitution and opposition fragmentation and destabilisation.”
- “The most common tactics interviewees mentioned included stressing the industry’s economic importance, ‘framing the debate and shaping the evidence’ and establishing relationships with politicians, patient advocacy groups and health representative bodies.”
- “One former senior policy-maker said that when an industry provided funds to political parties to help politicians get elected, it gave those donors “better access”. “I have actually been on a Cabinet …where two of the politicians said ‘Well, we can’t do that because this is actually one of the major donors to our party’, so I actually witnessed that statement,” she said.”
- “Dr Sacks said interviewees also highlighted “cherry-picking” of data that suited the industry’s position and the use of journals that were not peer-reviewed to publish industry-backed research.”