The companies in question include McDonald's, KFC, PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Unilever, Mars and Diageo.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five "responsibility deal" networks with businesses to come up with policies. Many say this is the equivalent of putting cancer policy in the hands of tobacco companies.
According to The Guardian:
"The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises ... In early meetings, these commercial partners have been invited to draft priorities and identify barriers, such as EU legislation, that they would like removed."
The UK Department of health is clearly placing the health and well-being of their citizens in grave danger with this foolish decision. But I can't say I'm surprised. This action is a phenomenal testimony as to just how powerful the food industry is. It certainly rivals the drug cartels as to their pernicious influence on public health.
In the US, Americans currently spend about 90 percent of their food budgets purchasing processed foods, which offer very little in terms of nutritional value and instead typically contain ingredients that will actually cause you harm. According to a previous article in the New York Times, "no country has embraced the movement toward commercialized, prepackaged food as much as the United States. "
Sure seems that this latest decision is little more than a scheme to drag the UK down the same path of increasing corporate profits while rapidly destroying the health of the British people.
What Does McDonald's, PepsiCo, and Mars Know About Health?
That's an important question that the UK department of health appears to ignore. The evidence showing how processed foods and fast foods destroy health is so overwhelming you'd have to be buried in a Chilean coal mine to be ignorant of this connection. And yet some of the worst corporate culprits are now supposed to write government health policies to combat obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease!
According to The Guardian:
"The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.
The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal's sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo..."
This is blatant folly. Additionally, the board created to oversee the work of these "deal networks" is ALSO dominated by the food, alcohol, advertising and retail industries! So what you end up with is foxes guarding the foxes that guard the hen house...
Making matters even more precarious for the public, The Guardian reports that "one group was told that the health department did not want to lead, but rather hear from its members what should be done."
In essence, the UK health department is giving carte blanche to industry to devise whatever "health recommendations" they see fit, and you can be sure of one thing – these industries will NOT recommend anything that could jeopardize their business! For example, they've already ruled out using pricing of food or alcohol as a strategy to change consumer behavior. What does that tell you? It's quite clear to me that nothing good can come out of this.
Poor Nutrition Drives Declining Health Statistics
It's not hard to predict that public health policies dictated by the likes of McDonald's, PepsiCo and Mars will be far from successful in creating recommendations to successfully curb obesity and diet-related diseases.
How could they? The very existence of these corporations relies on consumers maintaining their purchasing habits! And that's the crux of the public health disaster facing both the US and the UK. We all need to REDUCE our consumption of processed foods, fast foods, sugary snacks and sodas!
None of these types of "food" have any place whatsoever in a health-promoting, nutritious diet.
If you eat a fast-food burger, you can easily take in close to half of your daily caloric requirements. Add in fries and a soda and you may be nearing an entire day's worth of required calories in just one meal! But in that one meal, which is designed to be eaten quickly, on-the-go, you have not received the vitamins and minerals, the live enzymes and micronutrients, the healthy fats or high-quality protein that your body needs to function, let alone thrive...
Regularly eating these types of foods is a prescription for obesity, diabetes, and all the health problems associated with these conditions.
The obesity rate in the US is now nearing 27 percent, more than two out of three are overweight, and 1 in 4 Americans are affected with diabetes or pre-diabetes. If British citizens end up listening to the recommendations that arise from this unholy alliance between the UK health department and industry, British obesity statistics will soon mirror those in the US.
In fact, the UK is already closing in. According to the latest statistics from the UK NHS, a quarter of all adults in the UK are now classified as obese. As of 2008, nearly 17 percent of British boys between the ages of 2 and 15 also fell in the obese category, along with just over 15 percent of all girls.
The report also found that fresh produce purchases fell substantially between 2007 and 2008. Fresh fruit purchases fell by nearly 8 percent, and fresh green vegetables fell by almost 10 percent!
Only 25-29 percent of men and women, respectively, consume the recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables a day, and British children fare even worse when it comes to consuming healthful foods, with less than 20 percent of children consuming the recommended levels of fruits and veggies.
Corruption and Bribes – Business as Usual in the Food Industry
There's a very real danger in letting the food industry call the shots when it comes to establishing public health policies. It just can't work. The food industry, just like the pharmaceutical industry, is fraught with corruption and questionable business practices, including bribery and racketeering schemes. Like other players in big business, those running the food industry are out to make a profit, and often this comes at the expense of your health. Three prominent examples of food industry manipulation include the cases of:
- Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST)
- Genetically modified (GM) foods
You can read the entire history of fraud and deception that led to the approval of aspartame here, but, in a nutshell, the evidence that showed aspartame was harmful was ignored or falsified, and the artificial sweetener was pushed through the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process by a select few who stood to benefit handsomely from its profits.
Ditto for rBGH. The U.S. FDA didn't even require that rBGH be adequately tested before allowing it on the market. And, the fact that genetically modified (GM) foods have been allowed to infiltrate the market at all is a major lesson in the corruption of the food industry.
Further, the food crops currently subsidized in the US are corn, wheat, soy and rice. Growing little else but corn and soy means we end up with a fast food diet. In essence, these commodity programs are subsidies for the creation of junk and fast food, not REAL food that could have a positive impact on public health.
In short, regardless of where you live, the food you depend on to survive is slowly being degraded, devalued, and de-humanized by giant corporations and short-sighted, lackadaisical governments. And soon the UK will provide their citizens with even more highly questionable health recommendations fashioned by the very companies that actively created the health crises' of obesity, diabetes and alcohol- and diet-related diseases in the first place...
Take Control of Your Diet and Your Health With these Crucial Four Steps
Folks, whether you live in the US, the UK, or elsewhere, the current madness appears to be Universal... So, what's the answer?
Quite simply, you need to start thinking for yourself, and ignore much, if not most, of the health- and dietary advice you get through the conventional channels. Fortunately, "eating healthy" is actually far easier than most people think. Here's a quick and dirty summary:
- Focus on raw, fresh foods, and avoid as many processed foods as possible (for those who still have trouble understanding what "processed food" is: if it comes in a can, bottle, or package, and has a list of ingredients, it's processed)
- Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) like the plague, but don't just limit it to HFCS, you must limit ALL sources of fructose to less than 25 grams per day, and that includes fruit. If you are taking the average amount of fructose you are consuming three times that or 75 grams. At that level any fruit will cause more harm than good for all but those engaging in unhealthy levels of aerobic cardio activity.
- Limit or eliminate grain carbohydrates if you have diabetes, are overweight, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
- Replace sodas and other sweetened beverages with clean, pure water
If you're new to healthful living, those four basic steps can put you on the right path toward vastly improved health, regardless of what your government's dietary guidelines are. For my Top 10 Healthy Lifestyle recommendations please see this previous article.
The Best Sources for Safe, Nutritious Foods
Contrary to popular belief, your local grocery store is generally NOT going to be the best source for healthy, fresh food. Rather, the best place to find safe, nutritious food is at your local farm or from your local farmer's market or organic food co-op. If you live in the US, the Coop Directory Service (www.coopdirectory.org) can help you find a co-op near you. My web page Promoting Sustainable Agriculture also lists resources for high-quality produce, meats and other foods in your area. If you're in the UK, check out the Organic Portal (www.organicportal.co.uk).
Knowledge truly is power, and the more people become informed, the faster real and needed changes can come about. Below are several wonderful films that will give you an excellent overview of the health dangers of fast food, and the problems with modern agriculture. I highly recommend you watch and share these with your friends and family!