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Bill Roth headshot

Big Food Lobby Protects Profit Health, Not Public Health

By Bill Roth

The health research is conclusive. Too much salt in our diet increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. How big a deal is this? One of us will die of heart disease every 40 seconds!

What is the government doing to protect us from food companies putting too much salt in their products? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the agency established to protect our food supply. Its policy for controlling salt in our food is to engage in “…a dialogue with the industry.”

Why is government not doing more? It can be explained in one word: lobbying. Big Food is actively lobbying to protect its ability to load our food with salt because this is a proven path to higher sales and profits. Salt sells!

The issue of salt and Big Food lobbying is not an isolated incident. For example, the senate just passed GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling legislation that was heavily shaped by Big Food lobbying. Big Food does not want to show on its food and drink labels that it's using genetically modified ingredients. The state of Vermont passed the first law requiring them to do so. Big Food lobbyists ran to Congress for protection. The result is federal GMO-labeling legislation that says Big Food has to reveal its use of GMOs, but not on their labels! Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy labeled this legislation a “farce.”

Big Food sells addiction to grow sales and profits

My diet research concluded that addiction is at the very foundation of Big Food’s sales growth model. Big Food’s sales success is directly linked to its ability to addict us to ever larger quantities of sugar, salt, fat and caffeine. The more we eat or drink, the more we need to eat or drink to satisfy our addiction. These chemicals are the “new tobacco” in terms of their ability to addict us to a damaging lifestyle.

Selling ever higher amounts of salt, sugar, fat and caffeine is the sales strategy that has made companies like McDonald's and Coca-Cola global food suppliers. Their sales success has made us fat. Their sales are directly tied to our national weight gain epidemic.

Big Food is using tobacco company tactics

Tobacco companies wrote the book on how to use lobbying and mass-media campaigns to protect profits at the expense of public health. Their strategies are premised on denial, misinformation, and delay tactics to stop or retard public health actions that would curtail product sales.

Big Food is using these proven tactics to advance its profits at our health expense. For example, the Salt Institute, a salt producer trade association, calls the FDA’s salt guidelines “malpractice.” The Grocery Manufacturers Association, representing food and beverage companies, calls for more scientific investigation on the optimal salt level for human health. The bottom line is that Big Food is blunting government action by lobbying for more studies, or questioning even the need for action, despite the overwhelming evidence that its food promotes weight gain that has now reached health crisis levels.

Lose Big Food to lose weight

A proven best practice for achieving sustained weight loss is to stop eating Big Food. For most of us that is easier said than done. We have been eating Big Food for most of our lives. We are addicted to the chemicals.

I fought against myself in trying to stop eating Big Food. I loved my McDonald’s fish filet sandwich. Starting my morning with a cold Diet Coke was heaven. And what is better than eating barbecue potato chips?

But once I stopped eating Big Food, I started to see measurable weight loss. And I have lost over 30 pounds. This scale of success was not achieved just because I stopped eating Big Food. But it was a major factor.

Boycotting Big Food is now our last line of defense against weight gain and damaging health impacts. We have no other choice. Big Food lobbying is successfully overcoming public health legislation. Their lobbying has successfully made profit health more important than public health. Government will not provide us with transparent food labeling. It will not curtail the use of addictive chemicals like salt that underpin Big Food sales.

Our only health-repair course is to recognize that we are addicted to the huge quantities of chemicals that Big Food inserts into its food and beverages to grow sales. If you want to lose weight, stop going to Big Food restaurants. Lose weight by not buying their sodas and juices. Avoid the center isles of your grocery store. Better yet, don’t go to the grocery store. Go to your local farmers market. Do what our millennials do. Stop watching commercial TV with their massive amounts of Big Food advertising. These are the proven best practices for losing weight, because Big Food lobbying has blunted our government from taking meaningful actions to protect public health. It's up to us to protect ourselves by saying no to Big Food at the cash register.

Image credit: Pixabay

Bill Roth headshot

Bill Roth is a cleantech business pioneer having led teams that developed the first hydrogen fueled Prius and a utility scale, non-thermal solar power plant. Using his CEO and senior officer experiences, Roth has coached hundreds of CEOs and business owners on how to develop and implement projects that win customers and cut costs while reducing environmental impacts. As a professional economist, Roth has written numerous books including his best selling The Secret Green Sauce (available on Amazon) that profiles proven sustainable best practices in pricing, marketing and operations. His most recent book, The Boomer Generation Diet (available on Amazon) profiles his humorous personal story on how he used sustainable best practices to lose 40 pounds and still enjoy Happy Hour!

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