The PloS “Big Food” series is presenting seven articles examining the food and beverage industry’s impact on health. Guest editors for the series are Marion Nestle of New York University and David Stuckler of Cambridge University.
Nestle, a long-time critic of the industrialized food system, recently wrote, “It’s hard to believe how thoroughly Congress is in bed with the food industry.” Stuckler is a social epidemiologist who has looked at the impact of economic stresses on public health.
Describing their rationale for taking on Big Food, the PLoS Medicine editors write:
Foremost, large food and beverage companies now have an undeniably influential presence on the global health stage. Whether it’s food company executives providing expertise at major conferences and high-level UN meetings or major global health funders lecturing on what nongovernmental organizations can learn from Coca-Cola, the perspectives and experiences of Big Food are shaping the field of global health. At the same time that their expertise is elevated in global health debates, food companies are rebranding themselves as “nutrition companies,” offering business acumen and knowledge in food science and distribution, and asserting authority over solutions to problems not just of food production but of malnutrition, obesity, and even poverty. The legitimization of food companies as global health experts is further fueled by the growing number of private-public partnerships with public health organizations, ostensibly designed to foster collaborative action to improve people’s health and wellbeing. And yet food companies’ primary obligation is to drive profit by selling food. Why does the global health community find this acceptable and how do these conflicts of interest play out?
Next: Time to Put Big Food in the Hot Seat
Read more: #plosmedbigfood, big ag, diabetes, diets, factory farms, fast food and children, food industry, food justice, food security, food system, health, health policy, healthy eating, junk food, kids health, nutrition, obesity, obesity epidemic, real food, Type2 diabetes
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