Highly processed, nutritionally deprived
and calorie-rich foods tend to be the
profit drivers most heavily marketed by
their manufacturers. Their promotion and consumption
contradict government guidance on
healthy food choices and the aims of health organizations
fighting an epidemic of childhood and
adult obesity. Why then do many health organizations
allow their messages and reputations to
be tarnished by partnerships with food companies
(see Appendix 1, available at www .cmaj .ca
The world has changed since the first Ronald
Obesity is a pressing public health concern
worldwide. The epidemic is primarily fuelled by
the consumption of excess calories, including
healthy ones — a message that will not resonate
with corporate sponsors. When they partner,
health organizations become inadvertent pitchmen
for the food industry. They would do well
to remember that corporate dollars always introduce
perceived or real biases that may taint or
distort evidence-based lifestyle recommendations
and health messages.
This article was brought to my attention from another blog http://www.phdinparenting.com/. It is a troubling fact that large companies partner themselves with large charitable organizations that they are seemingly at odds with each other when it comes to the public’s general good health.
The most familiar to me is the Ronald McDonald Houses which are scattered across the country helping parents to stay near their hospitalized children during serious illnesses where the child needs expert treatment at a center that is not close to their home. This is a wonderful and generous operation that is sponsored by the McDonald Corporation.
However, when you stop and think about it you realize that McDonald’s could actually be contributing to the childhood obesity problem that is prevalent in today’s younger generation. Yes, they have made an effort to serve healthier choices and all of their nutritional information is now available if you really want to know the calorie content and the sodium and sugar content of what you or your child is eating. And the company will be the first to tell you that ultimately, it is up to the individual parents to monitor their child’s diet as well as their own.
When we do see companies like KFC aligned with Susan B. Koman supplying pink buckets of chicken….what is the message? It seems that Susan B. Koman is endorsing KFC and vice versa…so “fried chicken” must be okay. Right???
Well, I understand that when it comes to funding research for cancer and other illnesses organizations need money and big business is where it is at for them. However, is there a way to do this so that the public is not misled into believing that all is well with the nutritional value of what some of these companies are marketing.? I honestly do not know.
What I do know is that many hospitals used to accept lunches and snacks from pharmaceutical companies during educational seminars and from visiting pharmaceutical representatives…this was welcomed by the staff as a time for learning with the added benefit of lunch. This no longer happens at many hospitals as it is perceived as a sales pitch for the drugs from the sponsoring companies. As well it is, but as a responsible practitioner I am not swayed to use a medication by a sponsored lunch or a snack just as I am not swayed to eat at McDonald’s because they sponsor Ronald McDonald Houses.
We have to acknowledge that individuals have the right to “self-determination” and that is undeniable. We cannot legislate what they eat or what they feed their families.
But I do think we have the obligation to educate and point out these connections and psuedo-endorsements so that people can understand that this is how the world turns and to beware that not everything is as it seems.