Childhood obesity is often linked to early onset of Type 2 diabetes, but even those children who manage to avoid it can be hit with other weight-related health problems. These include some cancers (especially uterus, cervix, ovaries, breast, colon, rectum and prostate), high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, depression, skin problems, infertility and osteoarthritis.
Michelle Obama focused on childhood obesity early in her tenure as First Lady. She challenged the food and beverage industries to reduce the excess sugar and salt in their products. She might as well have thrown a party for them, for all the support she received.
Industry’s response was to step up lobbying efforts. A new report from Reuters details just how effective they were.
Lobbying records analyzed by Reuters reveal that the industries more than doubled their spending in Washington during the past three years. In the process, they largely dominated policymaking — pledging voluntary action while defeating government proposals aimed at changing the nation’s diet, dozens of interviews show.
The Reuters report points out the Center for Science in the Public Interest spent a grand total of $70,000 lobbying for healthier food last year. CSPI is one of the most effective consumer-interest organizations in the States, but their $70,000 represents what those who oppose stricter guidelines spend every 13 hours.
Congress did not support the First Lady. Neither did the White House. When Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) chided the White House for going “wobbly in the knees,” senior policy advisor and assistant chef Sam Kass responded, “We are incredibly proud of the commitments that many food companies have made…”
Right, and I have a bridge to sell you, Mr. Kass. Voluntary commitments have never been more than public relations proclamations for an industry that places profits over the health of people or the planet.
Photo 1 from tgolf_69 via Flickr Creative Commons; photos 2 and 3: Thinkstock
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