Down Our Throats – How Corporate Influence and Public Policy Conspire to Keep Us Unhealthy

November 30, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

Alex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
Waking Times

Food Processors Want to Keep Us Snacking – Can Public Policy Help?

No one can question the fact that the condition of public health in the United States has reached a critical point, and that much of this health catastrophe can be blamed on poor eating habits.

Nearly 1 million Americans each year experience a heart attack and another 600,000 die of heart disease, with poor diet and obesity being two of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. About 1 out of every 3 American adults is obese, with another 17% of American children being obese. The cost associated with obesity-related healthcare, as well as the associated loss of productivity, is estimated to be up to $190 billion each year.

Despite these staggering statistics, public policy does nothing to encourage a healthy diet, in fact the opposite appears to ring truer; we live under a sort of culturally reinforced dietary tyranny of processed and unnatural foods. And while the government assaults and prosecutes those who cultivate and pursue raw milk and natural foods, they are also now telling us that they can create better health through legislation, taxation and by implementing legal restrictions on serving sizes.

Are Taxes the Answer?

Just as there are heavy levies on the sales of cigarettes (about 57% of the cost of a pack in the US), some government entities are vying to extend this measure of control towards improving the public health by taxing unhealthy foods.

Denmark is an interesting example of this type of policy. In 2011, the Danish government began taxing foods containing more than 2.3% saturated fat, yet, due to strong pressure from the food industry in an already weak economy, the tax is now being repealed. Furthermore, the Danish public was resentful for having to pay more for natural foods high in fat, such as butter, dairy products and meat.

“The purpose of food taxes is to reduce sales of the products concerned. In bringing in its fat tax, the Danish government also wanted to raise revenue, reduce costs associated with obesity-related diseases, and increase health and longevity…. Anti-obesity tax measures in other countries have tended to avoid targeting broad nutrient groups. Instead, they focus on processed foods, fast food or sugary drinks – all major sources of calories. Taxing them seems like a more promising strategy.” – source: New Scientist

Recently Dr. Oliver Mytton, Academic Clinical Fellow, and his colleagues at the University of Oxford had examined the effect that taxes can have on public health. The research team found that taxing a variety of unhealthy foods would be most beneficial for public health, although if lawmakers were to start somewhere, a tax on sugary drinks would quickly have a noticeable impact.

“… a US study found a 35% tax on sugar sweetened drinks ($0.45 (£0.28; €0.34) per drink) in a canteen led to a 26% decline in sales.

Meanwhile modelling studies predict a 20% tax on sugary drinks in the US would reduce obesity levels by 3.5%, and suggest that extending VAT (at 17.5%) to unhealthy foods in the UK could cut up to 2700 heart disease deaths a year.” – source: BMJ.com

Under the Influence of Public Policy Makers

Americans’ collective unhealthiness drives the largest healthcare and medical industries in the world, generating about $2.2 trillion dollars in 2006. These industries alone pump millions of dollars to persuade public policy in their favor.

And let us not forget the food industry – comprised of a declining number of large food and beverage companies, with the top 10 accounting for about 45% of industry sales in 2012, led by Pepsico, Tyson Foods and Nestle. These companies spend tens of millions of dollars annually lobbying public officials so that policy favors their interests. A healthy and natural food diet advocates do not have lobbyists working overtime to ‘persuade’ our lawmakers into believing that a new policy based on the promotion of a natural diet might benefit public health and reduce many American’s medical bills. Assuming, of course, that government and industry want lower medical bills.

Under this modicum of corporate influence of public health policy, it is no surprise that there is no public effort to encourage people to eat less and eat better. This would be bad for business, and such efforts would encounter strong opposition from food industry, medical and pharmaceutical giants.

The recent shift and growing popularity of buying local and organic food already has the leading food producers concerned, hence their aggressive acquisitions of smaller organic producers. The leading food processors are not likely to easily allow policies that encourage local farms and subsidize healthy food producers, unless they can also reap the benefits without hurting their conventional business, which seems rather unlikely, considering that conventional business is processed, denatured foods.

Feeding Consumers a Mixed Message

There have been many local and state efforts throughout the US to implement taxes on sugary drinks. Largely, these efforts are quickly abandoned as soft-drink companies throw millions of dollars into lobbying and publicity campaigns that focus on the consumer’s right to choose. They’re concerned about our freedom. However, New York City recently set what could end up being a nationwide precedent for regulating the size of soft drinks:

On Thursday [Sept. 2012] the New York City Health Department became the first in the nation to ban the sale of sugared beverages larger than 16 oz. at restaurants, mobile food carts, sports arenas and movie theaters.

It’s a bold experiment in the anti-obesity campaign, and while it’s widely supported by health professionals, it’s not popular with food retailers or most city residents. – source: Time

So what is the message that Americans are getting from their government? On the one hand, discussion of a natural diet is left out of the debate as per the will of industry, and, on the other, we are to face criminal violations for indulging in that, which is most heavily promoted to us.

With fines of up to $200 per violation, the city’s purveyor’s of tasty drinks are likely to be compelled into compliance. So does this mean that the world famous Coca-Cola billboard in Times Square will now be encouraging thirsty tourists to break the law?

The Right Thing is So Confusing

We all should have the right to choose what we drink, but often the information we are given to make these decisions is misleading. For example, raw milk producers have had to face strong policy opposition and even persecution, with many consumers not allowed to buy raw milk due to its “potential health dangers.” Yet fast food establishments have been given the green light in every corner of our great nation. So what are Americans to do?

Advocating Nothing

Advocating higher taxation in any form is unconscionable in this economy and with a government as widely corrupt as is the US government and many state and municipal level governments. The tax burden on the American citizen is already overwhelming and it is clear that no level of taxation can resolve the astronomical national debt we have accrued under the fiat money system overseen by the privately held Federal Reserve.

In a big way, this means that the American people are facing a serious catch-22 when it comes to public health: we are fined if we do, and we are doomed if we don’t.

General food policies that encourage healthy eating and subsidize healthy food production are just two examples of how government could educate the public and make healthy food more affordable, but this would require a break from the corporate influenced system of policy making we have today, which is highly unlikely to occur without much more participation from an aware public.

Once again, the solution to one of society’s greatest problems is left up to the individual. With industry and government competing for your shopping dollars, your tax dollars, and control over your plate, the need for healthy, informed and active Americans has never been greater.

About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.  He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com, and an avid student of Yoga and life.

Sources:

http://www.bmj.com/press-releases/2012/05/14/20-%E2%80%9Cfat-tax%E2%80%9D-needed-improve-population-health

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628925.600-fighting-the-flab-means-fighting-makers-of-fatty-foods.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_the_United_States

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigarette_taxes_in_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_advertising

http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/AdultSmoking/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_tobacco_consumption

http://www.foodprocessing.com/top100/index.html

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

~~ Help Waking Times to raise the vibration by sharing this article with the buttons below…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: All Original Articles, Body, Business, Contributors, Earth, Food, Governance, Self, Society, Staff, Uncategorized

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ken says:

    Qui Bono, follow the money, it will usually lead to the criminal. Eat raw, organic, local fresh foods, get your rest, a little exercise everyday and you won’t need a doctor, vaccine, cold medicine, health giver, etc.

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

This Discovery Makes Bee Die-Off Problem That Much Worse

This Discovery Makes Bee Die-Off Problem That Much Worse













Heather Callaghan, Contributor
Waking Times

Many arrows point to the bee decline. A Harvard professorrecently warned that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is only the beginning for us. The ripple effect from new classes of pesticides is just getting started.

But there’s more…

The problems they face can be compared … More

August 28, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More
People are Proving That ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease is Reversible  – No Need to Waste Ice Water

People are Proving That ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease is Reversible – No Need to Waste Ice Water













Heather Callaghan, Contributor
Waking Times

I mentioned the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a recent article highlighting the social guiding that came with all the “disease awareness” we’ve been involuntarily immersed in via the media in the last few weeks. ALS meaning Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as … More

August 26, 2014 | By | 4 Replies More
Back-to-School Vaccines: Know the Risks and Failures

Back-to-School Vaccines: Know the Risks and Failures













Barbara Loe Fisher, Mercola
Waking Times

As summer comes to an end, the drumbeat promoting back-to-school vaccinations grows louder and louder in America. Unlike children in Canada and the European Union,12 our children must get dozens of doses of vaccines or they can’t get a public school … More

August 26, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
New Anti Police State App Helps You “See Something, Say Something” in Real-Time

New Anti Police State App Helps You “See Something, Say Something” in Real-Time













Waking Times

Recent studies have shown that police are held almost completely unaccountable by the current systems of governmental oversight. Perhaps this is the reason why you are 9 times more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than a terrorist. Rather than wait for bloated bureaucracy … More

August 25, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
Vitamin D for Depression, Dementia, and Diabetes

Vitamin D for Depression, Dementia, and Diabetes













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

Vitamin D research has repeatedly shown that vitamin D can improve a number of brain disorders, including depression and dementia—the most devastating form of which is Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated … More

August 21, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

Activism Works

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients













Coach Mark Smallwood, EcoWatch
Waking Times

In 431 B.C. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

More than 2500 years later, we are inundated with advertisements boasting the latest, greatest cure-all super drug. From a young age, we learn that it doesn’t matter how or … More

August 23, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More
As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry

As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry













, EcoWatch
Waking Times

We’ve got this.

Thanks to the courageous and indefatigable efforts of pipeline fighters everywhere, the tide has finally turned on Keystone XL. As it becomes increasingly clear that Keystone XL’s northern leg is not going through, it is time to set our sights … More

August 4, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Seizing Control of Our Destinies

Seizing Control of Our Destinies













Julian Rose, Contributor
Waking Times

In 1381, at a time of great repression for the British agricultural work force, an extraordinary people’s revolutionary named Wat Tyler sprang to his feet and announced, “England should be a nation of self governing communities,” to which he added, “ No lord shall exercise … More

July 28, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More
Triumph For Citizens in Florida As Hughes Oil Company Drops Fracking Project

Triumph For Citizens in Florida As Hughes Oil Company Drops Fracking Project













Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog
Waking Times

On Friday morning, Dan A. Hughes Oil Company and the Collier Resources Company agreed to terminate their lease agreement, with the exception of the Collier Hogan 20-3H well, next to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Florida.

Hughes Oil dropped its plans to drill … More

July 14, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
A Forgotten Community in New Orleans: Life on a Superfund Site

A Forgotten Community in New Orleans: Life on a Superfund Site













Julie Dermansky, DeSmogBlog
Waking Times

Shannon Rainey lives in a house that was built on top of a Superfund site in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

“I bought my house when I was 25, and thirty years later, I still can’t get out,” she told DeSmogBlog.

Rainey’s … More

June 23, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More