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Should McDonald’s And Pepsi Write Britain’s Health Policy?

Should McDonald’s And Pepsi Write Britain’s Health Policy?

Fast food companies McDonald’s and KFC, and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, and Mars have been invited to assist in the writing of UK government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, according to the Guardian.

Health advocates are baffled at the decision by health secretary Andrew Lansley to create five “responsibility deal” networks with businesses, which some say to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry.

Who’s Who?

  • The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.
  • The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal’s sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo, owner of Walker’s crisps.
  • The responsibility deal’s physical activity group is chaired by the Fitness Industry Association, which is the lobby group for private gyms and personal trainers.

Despite the obvious conflict of interest involved, Lansley insists that he’s using the groups as a way to explore voluntary approaches to improving public health.

The notion that excessive consumption of junk food or alcohol can be changed without regulations or price increases might be heart-warming, but it’s not realistic.

Industries aren’t going to throw their full weight behind campaigns designed to convince people to drop their product. Besides, if a friendly PSA or educational pamphlet was all that was needed to convince people to take better care of themselves, it would already be happening.

Professor Tim Lang, a member of the government’s advisory committee on obesity, also doubts the food and drink industry’s ability to regulate itself. “In public health, the track record of industry has not been good. Obesity is a systemic problem, and industry is locked into thinking of its own narrow interests,” Lang told the Guardian.

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Image Credit: Flickr - Don Hankins

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87 comments

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11:48AM PST on Jan 1, 2011

WHAT in the world could fast food places contribute to consideration (unless it is a ploy by the government to try to get these joints to be more healthy - which I truly doubt.)

5:29AM PST on Dec 25, 2010

THANKS

8:24PM PST on Nov 30, 2010

Am I surprised by the British government? No. Am I surprised at the unsubtle way they did it? Yes. Governments are bought and sold by corporations, just like in this country. There is a cabal of rich across the globe from all countries, whose only motive is greed and profit. Am I paranoid? No.

3:32PM PST on Nov 28, 2010

They should not be allowed to participate in creating health policies but they should not be stopped from marketing their products any way the choose, either. Providing, of course, all products are clearly marked with regard to content and nutrition.

HOWEVER, I am really, really, really tired of governments sticking their noses into my pantry. ARGH

3:01PM PST on Nov 28, 2010

The only answer to the poll above is NO! How can any person vote that these irresponsible companies, who don't care even a little bit about the health of children and adults alike, should be allowed to write a health code?!

Absolutely preposterous and disgusting.

Beth, I would really appreciate if you would include emails of who citizens can contact to refute this idea.

11:24AM PST on Nov 28, 2010

I read one of the journalistic books about current food industry and fast foods, etc. and in the interview with McDonald's personnel, they said they are not in the business of providing nutrition. They study things like flavor and mouth feel and what sells. They admitted they are oblivious to nutrition when making decisions of what goes on the menu. They have stopped offering supersizing, how great, but have you read the fat and sugar content of their new coffees? and the fruit drinks like smoothies? It's almost unbelievable anyone could put that much fat into any food/drink item!

11:25PM PST on Nov 27, 2010

thanx for information

5:36PM PST on Nov 22, 2010

No I don't think those businesses be involved in health policy. It's like putting the criminals in charge of the prison or the sharks in charge of the swimming lesson.

1:53PM PST on Nov 22, 2010

11% said yes? Are y'all smoking crack?? Wow. I really can't believe this! Those companies only care about profit. I say tax the hell out of unhealthy food! Make it easier for me to eat healthy, because I'll need a whole lot LESS healthcare than people who eat junk.

6:04PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

This is lunacy. Wonder how much the secretary got paid by each of those companies to be include them in the policy-making process.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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