Studies showing how food companies work to affect government policies

Barry Popkin is quoted in a New York Times article discussing two recently published studies that show how multinational food companies can affect nutrition and health policies that come from various governments.

China’s fitness-is-best message, as it happens, has largely been the handiwork of Coca-Cola and other Western food and beverage giants, according to a pair of new studies that document how those companies have helped shape decades of Chinese science and public policy on obesity and diet-related illnesses like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

The findings, published Wednesday in The BMJ and The Journal of Public Health Policy, show how Coca-Cola and other multinational food companies, operating through a group called the International Life Sciences Institute, cultivated key Chinese officials in an effort to stave off the growing movement for food regulation and soda taxes that has been sweeping the west.

China’s public health initiatives almost always promote exercise, and they seldom mention the value of cutting calories or reducing the consumption of processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages, which many experts say is essential for losing weight, keeping it off, and improving health.

“You can’t use physical activity alone to get rid of obesity, hypertension or diabetes,” said Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Read the full news article here, or find further details in the publications in The BMJ and The Journal of Public Health Policy.