Is Food the New Tobacco?

The Rudd Center at Yale is devoted to establishing a firm research basis for obesity interventions. Its latest contribution is a paper in the Milbank Quarterly from its director, Kelly Brownell, and co-author Kenneth Warner, an equally distinguished anti-smoking researcher from the University of Michigan. Its provocative title: The perils of ignoring history: Big Tobacco played dirty and millions died. How similar is Big Food?

The paper is getting much attention. A spokesman for the American Dietetic Association, a group well known for its close ties to food companies, emphasizes that food is not tobacco. Of course it's not. But food companies often behave like tobacco companies, and not always in the public interest. The Milbank paper provides plenty of documentation to back up the similarity. Worth a look, no?

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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