“A disturbing trend has come to our attention”, says Patrick Mustain, about the food industry. “You, the people, are starting to think more about health and are starting to do something about it.” His blog was published Monday in Scientific American. Here’s a brief, highly edited summary of what he said.
The food industry wants us to think about health as how we look rather than the quality of life we live. They are ready for our reactions to health issues, whether we choose to go low-calorie, low-fat, gluten-free or inevitably give up and accept the fact that we can’t resist snacks, potato chips and ice cream novelties.
The food industry is quick to respond to new health trends by developing and marketing new products. When things were not looking so good for fat, they were quick to point out chewy fruit snacks were a fat-free option. Low fat! Healthy! Then the tide turned against carbohydrates. Meat and dairy were happy to show that their steaks, meats and cheeses were low-carb choices. Low carbs! Healthy!
Concerned about childhood obesity, in 2009, Congress commissioned a working group to develop standards for advertising foods to children. This group included the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Congress identified these organizations as being experts in child nutrition, child health, psychology, education, and marketing.
But the food industry was not happy when the working group released its report in 2011. This report was potentially devastating to them. The working group, experts in nutrition, were officially saying what made up a meaningful healthy diet was not what was currently being marketed to children. In the end, after a huge outcry from the food industry, the recommendations were withdrawn.”
We the people need to take it upon ourselves to make good food choices. The government is seeing the increasing obesity and diabetes rates among adults and children. It is asking the states to come up with programs to help us get more active and to make better food choices. But do not wait for the government to regulate what we can or cannot eat. Go ahead! Make the food industry squirm by choosing less processed, low-fat, low-sugar foods. We can do it because we know its better!