This week, the two companies adopted new tactics that could indicate a turning point in how the food industry fights fat
Sometimes history's turning points—Stalingrad, Waterloo, Gettysburg—are not readily apparent. While we may not recognize it yet, we have just witnessed a milestone in the War on Obesity. In the last week alone, two iconic food companies (Walmart and McDonald's) unveiled plans representing major changes in the way they market their products and services: Walmart announced that it intends to open 300 stores in areas without access to fresh produce and healthy foods (so-called "food deserts"), while McDonald's is reformulating its Happy Meals to make them healthier. Is this the tipping point we have been waiting for?
The divide between food corporations and public health advocates and activists on who is responsible for America's obesity crisis and what should be done to address it is well chronicled. It has taken on the air of a war that resembles the Boehner-Obama deficit brouhaha, with not much progress on reversing obesity rates.
Corporate strategists are fond of adopting lessons from the great military tacticians and routinely use military metaphors when confronting adversaries: They launch assaults, penetrate markets, and crush the enemy. And the fight with public health advocates and activists has not disappointed. But this week marked a seismic shift in tactics.