With the United Nations meeting to develop a global response to the obesity-related increase in chronic diseases, the lobbyists are fighting
In what Bloomberg News terms an "epidemic battle," food companies are doing everything they can to prevent the United Nations from issuing a statement that says anything about how food marketing promotes obesity and related chronic diseases.
The U.N. General Assembly is meeting right now in New York to develop a global response to the obesity-related increase in non-communicable, chronic diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, type 2 diabetes) now experienced by both rich and poor countries throughout the world.
As the Bloomberg account explains:
Company officials join political leaders and health groups to come up with a plan to reverse the rising tide of non- communicable diseases.... On the table are proposals to fight obesity, cut tobacco and alcohol use, and expand access to life-saving drugs in an effort to tackle unhealthy diets and lifestyles that drive three of every five deaths worldwide. At stake for the makers of snacks, drinks, cigarettes, and drugs is a market with combined sales of more than $2 trillion worldwide last year.
Commenting on the collaboration of food companies in this effort:
"It's kind of like letting Dracula advise on blood bank security," said Jorge Alday, associate director of policy with World Lung Foundation, which lobbies for tobacco control.
The lobbying, to understate the matter, is intense. On one side are food corporations with a heavy financial stake in selling products in developing countries. Derek Yach, a senior executive of PepsiCo, for example, argues in the British Medical Journal that it's too simplistic to recommend nutritional changes to reduce chronic disease risk. (Of course it is, but surely cutting down on fast food, junk food, and sodas ought to be a good first step?)