The food and beverage industry wants to forestall government intervention in the hope that self- regulation is sufficient. However, as we have seen with the tobacco industry, this approach ultimately undermines public health.
One approach that they are using to side step the issue excess calories is to emphasize “balance” and “calories out”. However, when a super-size burger meal contains 2300 “calories in” – the equivalent of running a marathon – it becomes impractical to achieve any “balance”.
Another argument they use is that market forces will correct the problem. With companies spending billions to promote their addictive high fat and sugar products (and only a tiny fraction being spent to promote healthy eating habits), it is obvious what direction the market forces will take us.
A more recent trend is reformulation of poor nutritional food and beverages and then promoting them as healthy. For example, one sweetened breakfast cereal advertises “Now Helps Support Your Child’s Immunity”. Sugar has been proven to weaken the immune system and adding a few vitamins is not going to change that!
Like the tobacco industry, the food and beverage industry will be able to buy the support of scientists and professional organizations; but this will only lead to further decline in the public health. Since the government is footing the bill for this decline in health, then they need to step up and increase the pressure on this industry to correct their harmful practices.
Terry Pfau, DO, HMD