I'd argue yes, but still believe that individuals are responsible for their weight (genetic metabolic disorders excluded). Here's a little more on the debate occurring in the public health realm. Enjoy and Happy Friday!
Science Journal Takes Aim at 'Big Food'
By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today Published: June 21, 2012
The food and beverage industry has a huge and growing influence on the obesity crisis, but "Big Food" is not met with the same skepticism as other industries that influence public health, according to the editors of PLoS Medicine.
"Food, unlike tobacco and drugs, is necessary to live and is central to health and disease," the editors wrote online in an editorial kicking off a new series on the interplay between the food and beverage industry and public health. "And yet the big multinational food companies control what people everywhere eat, resulting in a stark and sick irony: one billion people on the planet are hungry while two billion are obese or overweight."
The editors said that while other big business interests -- such as the alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries -- are often easy targets on which to blame public health ills, the food and beverage industry, for the most part, has gotten a pass.
Food and beverage companies are shaping global health conversations, in part by branding themselves as "nutrition companies" and presenting at major conference and at high-level UN meetings, the editors wrote. Food companies often partner with global health groups for health and nutrition initiatives, which is a conflict of interest, according to PLoS, because of food companies' primary goal: selling food.
"Why does the global health community find this acceptable?" the editors wrote.
"To promote health, industry would need to make and market healthier foods so as to shift consumption away from highly processed, unhealthy foods," nutrition and public health professor Marion Nestle, PhD, from New York University, and sociologist David Stuckler, PhD, MPH, from Cambridge University wrote in an accompanying essay. "Yet, such healthier foods are inherently less profitable."
The public health arena and governments too often turn a blind eye to the role of processed foods in obesity, and the "uncomfortable reason" is that because taking action would require taking on the "powerful Big Food companies with strong ties to and influence over national governments," the authors wrote.
Nestle and Stuckler said that the 10 largest food companies control half of all food sales worldwide. Three-fourths of the the world's food sales involved processed foods, which is a "driving force behind the global rise in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods enriched in salt, sugar, and fat," they wrote.
Nestle and Stuckler also argued that the food industry isn't doing enough to curb obesity.
"They should support initiatives such as restrictions on marketing to children, better nutrition standards for school meals, and taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages," they wrote. "The central aim of public health must be to bring into alignment Big Food's profit motives with public health goals. Without taking direct and concerted action to expose and regulate the vested interests of Big Food, epidemics of poverty, hunger, and obesity are likely to become more acute."
The Grocery Manufacturers Association -- the trade group for food and beverage companies -- responded to the series by highlighting all the ways it says it works to improve health, including introducing tens of thousands of new healthier food items, shifting advertising so that 100% of ads seen in kids' shows promote "better-for-you" products, and putting nutrition labeling on the front of packaged foods to make it harder to miss.
Another article published in PLoS compared the soda and tobacco industries, arguing that the "social responsibility" campaigns of both types of companies are really profit-oriented campaigns masquerading as social responsibility.
The comparison between the industries was flatly rejected by the American Beverage Association. "There is simply no comparison between soda and tobacco -- not among our products, nor our business practices," the group said. "Tobacco in and of itself is harmful -- in any amount; our beverages are not."
The nonalcoholic beverage industry has worked to reduce obesity in the form of offering smaller portioned drinks and drinks with fewer calories, clear labeling, and supporting exercise and balanced lifestyle programs, the American Beverage Association said in a statement.
Source: MedPage Today "http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/PublicHealth/33405?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WCfirstname.lastname@example.org&mu_id=5262276
Dr. Maltz earned a Medical Degree and Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, TX. She completed a combined Internal and Preventive Medicine Residency at UTMB in June, 2011. She then completed a 2-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, CT, during which she simultaneously underwent an intensive 1000-hour curriculum created by The University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Program founded by Dr. Andrew Weil.