‘Big Food’ scrutiny as important as alcohol, tobacco
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26th Jun 2012
Marina Kamenev all articles by this author
‘BIG Food’ requires the same amount of scrutiny as the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, according to the editors of PLoS Medicine.
Health professionals should recognise the influence of Big Food on public health and participate in campaigns to prevent marketing to children and to increase taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers said in a series of reports published by the open access journal.
“Food, unlike tobacco and drugs, is necessary to live and is central to health and disease. And yet the big multinational food companies control what people everywhere eat, resulting in a stark and sick irony: one billion people on the planet are hungry while two billion are obese or overweight,” the editors wrote.
The food industry is not driven to deliver optimal human dietary requirements but to maximise profits, according to public health and nutrition experts.
“The world’s food system is not a competitive marketplace of small producers but an oligopoly,” the researchers said.
In the US alone the 10 largest food companies control more than half of all food sales; globally this proportion is 15% and rising.
Big Food producers were the main reason why the transition from traditional simple diets to highly processed food was accelerating, the experts said, adding there was a worrying trend for Big Food companies to rebrand as ‘nutrition companies’.
PLoS Medicine 2012; online 19 June