Food and Beverage Industries to Help Write New UK Health Policy?

Obesity  Secretary of State for Health in the UK, Andrew Lansley has come up with an idea that would give industry executives a seat at the table as the nation drafts new health policy concerning obesity-related diseases. The Department of Health has invited McDonalds, PepsiCo alcohol companies and other industry leaders to help come up with new measures to address the growing public health crisis.

The Department of Health is taking a backseat approach to drafting new policy and instead of setting the bar high and coming up with measures to prevent obesity-related diseases, they are hoping that the food and beverage industry leaders instead will volunteer information about what should be done when it comes to health. Campaign groups have described this new method to be the equivalent of handing new smoking policy measures over to the tobacco industry.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, the leading liver specialist and until recently president of the Royal College of Physicians was quoted in the Guardian saying he doubted whether there could be “a meaningful convergence between the interests of industry and public health since the priority of the drinks industry was to make money for shareholders while public health demanded a cut in consumption”. If health experts recommend regulating the consumption of fast food, soda and alcohol, how can the industry possibly be expected to draft policy limiting the use of their own products?

Although the UK government seeks to improve public health policy through a more voluntary consensus approach, rather than top-down regulation, it seems unlikely that an industry only concerned about the bottom line will voluntarily focus on waistlines instead.

Yours in Health,

Stella Metsovas B.S., CCN