Regulate the food industry?

regulationI am reading with interest an article that suggests that Type 2 Diabetes can be halted if we regulate the food industry in the same way we regulate the tobacco industry.  That’s a very bold claim.  

On the one hand I think it’s true that tackling corruption in our food industry will go a long way to helping – at least finally exposing both the harm that so many manufactured food products do to our health, and the cynically flawed messages about healthy eating that the same industry expounds. On the other hand, tobacco regulation hasn’t (yet?) stamped out smoking, hasn’t prevented many millions still being made in tobacco profits, and hasn’t stamped out smoking-related illnesses.

But even if Type 2 Diabetes isn’t actually halted by such regulation, it may well be reduced significantly. Still a significant improvement!

I especially noticed this paragraph:

Larry Cohen, of the Prevention Institute, an institution that aims to prevent chronic diseases, states: “We cannot negotiate with them; we don’t want to let them look good by making it appear as though they are trying to work things out with us. Their primary goal is to make money and if they do that by selling unhealthy products, we need to make it very clear that that is not acceptable.” Mr Cohen’s views on the situation directly oppose the UK government’s approach which has welcomed processed food companies to influence food regulation policy.

For the record, it isn’t just Larry Cohen’s view that directly opposes the UK Government’s approach.  For one there’s mine! And for another there is the British Medical Association, as discussed in another article. That the UK Government’s approach is failing is clearly evident in the facts:

  • Type 2 Diabetes is still on the rise.
  • Obesity is still on the rise.
  • Food industry advertising continues apace, to relying on discredited messages: here’s a good summary by the BBC.
  • Think how many new “healthy low-fat” products have been launched since Harvard School of Public Health declared in 2012 “it’s time to end the low-fat myth!”

The food industry is continuing demonstrably to progress its mission to make as many millions as possible by continuing to promote unhealthy products and messages.  Mr. Cohen speaks the truth.

“So who is Larry Cohen?”, I wanted to know…and then I found the website for the American Prevention Institute. What a laudable organisation this appears to be – we need a UK equivalent!  Mr. Cohen, if you are reading this, please could we have a chat about bringing more of your good work to the UK?  

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