Friday, 6 March 2015

Is Coca Cola Running Scared?

What are Coca-Cola and PepsiCo doing to fight off the challenge that their products are unhealthy?

According to last month’s British Medical Journal  the big food companies being allowed to monopolise the funding of most nutritional research. This leads to big conflicts of interest for the scientists and can effectively lead to a softening of the impact of collective research (and by that I mean that Big-Food will choose the scientists they want and act to restrict future funding to anyone who publishes negative findings). And being in the driving seat also enables them to create an illusion of self-regulation. 

Recently Nestle signed up to the UK Responsibility Deal where members pledge to improve public health in England; they then produced a low-sugar Cheerios cereal option, which no one will buy because it is tasteless. What have they achived for public health? Nothing. They will say that they have created a choice, but neither choise is healthy.  I don't think they are taking this "Responsibility" very seriously. But the more the food industry can claim to regulate themselves the less the government might be inclined to legislate against them.

The closer we look at the way that sugar industry is run the more we can tell that they already know that the future looks bad and they are already preparing for it.

It’s only money that drives the truth into the open. Each year Coca-cola (and no doubt the rest of them) have to produce a market risk analysis for their investors, and it openly declares that they live in fear of two things: that research that will show that their products are unhealthy and that governments will legislate against them or tax their unhealthy products.

So is it any surprise that the food industry want to be so closely involved in the researching and policing of nutrition?

And so my faith in scientists and their research takes another battering.  These days I am far more impressed by a doctor who says “Look, my patients are getting better when they try this diet” than I am by the words of  a scientist who sits on the board of a panel funded by Coca-Cola.

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