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News2014June › Food industry 'takes cynical approach to obesity epidemic' › June 2014

Food industry 'takes cynical approach to obesity epidemic'

Obesity has become a major health problem-but don't expect the food industry to do anything about it

Obesity has become a major health problem-but don't expect the food industry to do anything about it. They've too much money to lose and so they play a tactical game with politicians, a new study into the industry reveals.

The industry is positioning itself as being 'part of the solution' while quietly protecting profits, says Ivy Ken, a professor of sociology at the George Washington University.

The industry is working with US government agencies in a Partnership for a Healthier America, but it would be better called a Partnership for a Healthier Bottom Line, says Prof Ken.

The companies use terms such as 'working together' with government agencies to solve the problems of obesity, but profits continue to spiral. Looking at a group of food manufacturers that together represent a quarter of the food sales in the US, sales increased by $1.25bn for low-calorie products over the five years to 2011, while sales of standard foods also grew by $278m over the same period.

At best, the companies are making minor modifications to products that are directly responsible for the obesity epidemic in the first place, she says.

(Source: Social Currents, 2014; 1 (2): 130


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