I think we’re facing, unfortunately, a loosely organized conspiracy to promote disease and obesity. By default or by design, one-third of our economy profits from people being sick and fat. So big food, which is industrial food, big farming, which is agribusiness, and big pharma all profit from making people sicker and fatter.
It’s hard to fight that battle. We see, for example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spends $100 million fighting childhood obesity in this country. The food industry spends that in four days to promote junk food and processed food, and the worse the food is for you the more they advertise and promote it.
It’s hard to fight that when government subsidies are supporting high fructose corn syrup production and trans fats, when you’re standing at the fast food restaurant and the government is standing there with you buying your cheeseburger or French fries and soda but they’re not standing with you at the produce aisle because there are no subsidies for fruits and vegetables.
So we’re providing an obesogenic environment and we need to think about how we can change that by changing some of our policies, by changing how we market foods. The government requested, the FTC requested, that the food industry change its marketing around food and basically restrict marketing for foods that had high salt, fat and sugar. But this was only a recommendation to change. It wasn’t a demand or a regulation. And they only suggested they do it in five years, so that’s like saying to tobacco let’s stop marketing cigarettes to kids in five years, and, by the way, you only have to do it if you really want to. That’s not how we’re going to create change in America.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.
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