020: The Food Industry Wants The Public CONFUSED About Nutrition!

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6 years ago, Denmark introduced the world’s first saturated fat tax. It was abolished shortly after.

Basically, populations are not able to fight the influence of large corporations.

A well used approach for alcohol, tobacco, and food-related corporate interests is to shift the focus away from health. This involves reframing a fat or soft drinks tax as an issue of consumer rights and debate over the role of the state in “nannying” or restricting people’s choices.

The nanny state is a term that is usually used to discourage governments from introducing legislation or regulation that might undermine the power or actions of industry or individuals.

It has been regularly used to undermine public health efforts!!

One could argue that it’s the “Nanny Industry” that uses fear of government regulation to maintain it’s own dominance, to maintain its profits at a significant cost to the community and public health!!!

The tobacco industry was a classic example when they touted that learning the effects of danger from smoking was a personal responsibility…

“As long as people understand the risks, they should be able to make their own choice.”

Is this true? This assumes that people can access relevant and accurate information relative to their decisions…

But, deliberate industry interference has often created situations where consumers have access only to incomplete and inaccurate information!

For decades, tobacco companies successfully suppressed or undermined scientific evidence of smoking’s dangers and down played the public health concerns to which this information gave rise.

Decades of deception, manipulation, and deliberate targeting of children, marketing and selling their lethal products without regard for the humans they were harming every day.

The tobacco industry’s deliberate strategy of challenging scientific evidence undermines smokers’ ability to understand the harms smoking poses and questions arguments that smoking is an informed choice.

Therefore, the tobacco industry have denied smokers truthful information, but at the same time hold smokers accountable for assuming the risk of smoking which will cause 50% of them to die prematurely.

So, in this context, doesn’t it seem as though government intervention could have been vital to the protection of consumers from predatory industries such as the tobacco industry?

So for the FOOD Industry:

The public is bombarded with information and it is hard to tell which is true, which is false, and which is exaggerated. Foods are sold without clarity about the nutritional content or harmful effects.

The food industry spent 1 Billion dollars making sure that the extremely easy to understand traffic light labeling system for food (green, yellow, red in categories for fat, saturates, sugar, and salt) could not happen. They spent 1 billion dollars fighting this to make sure it remained confusing for consumers.

To give a bit of context, the drug industry spent $116 million on lobbying in the US in 2011.

So the food industry spent 10x more than the notoriously heavy handed drug industry to fight against this simple labeling system.

It was replaced by the ridiculous system today with percentage signs, numbers, serving sizes, etc. You need to pull out a calculator in the store to figure out what the heck you’re actually eating.

It’s in the food industry’s interest to have the public confused about nutrition.

To show you how bad it actually is:

Head Start teachers are responsible for providing nutrition education to over 1 million low-income children annually. They were all given a nutrition test. 

Only 4 out of 181 (3%) answered at least 4 out of 5 correctly.

Not a single one answered all 5 nutrition questions correctly.

54% of them agreed that it was hard to know which nutrition information to believe.

The food industry wants to keep it that way.

55% of the teachers were not just overweight, but obese.

Like the tobacco industry, the food industry tries to keep the public in the dark.

As of right now, the government is not stepping in to help this problem. The industry is too greedy, focused, and fighting against the truth being public domain.

It is up to us to seek out correct and relevant information based on the choices we should make as consumers by following the brightest minds in nutrition, and remembering that the truth is what will set us free from the shackles of industry who are determined to undermine our intelligence.

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Ryan Kearns