Big Food is portrayed as the new Big Tobacco in a sweeping report that links the industry’s influence to a global obesity epidemic, along with malnutrition and climate change.
The Lancet Commission on Obesity blamed a growth-focused sector for a system that gorges populations on empty calories while misusing land, energy and other resources. Without naming companies, the report released late Sunday called for restricting the industry -- led by multinationals such as Nestle SA, McDonald’s Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. -- from policy-related discussions.
Three years in the making, the report echoed past indictments of sectors such as tobacco, alcohol, energy and firearms for using political clout to shape laws, policy and health guidelines. The 43-member panel pointed to food companies’ lobbying prowess as a reason for nutrition recommendations that sometimes have run counter to scientific evidence.
“Although food clearly differs from tobacco because it is a necessity to support human life, unhealthy food and beverages are not,” William Dietz, a professor at George Washington University and one of the authors, said in a statement.