by Marion Nestle
Apr 13 2008

Food companies’ actions on obesity: report card

Since 2001, investment analysts in Great Britain have argued that food companies must take responsibility for their contribution to obesity or risk losing business over the long term. The investment analysis, from JP Morgan in the UK, says some companies (Danone, Unilever, Nestlé) are making some progress in some ways, particularly in Europe, but most say they are doing more than they really are–more show than tell. The analysts’ recommendation: food companies should do more–much more–to demonstrate their commitment to the health of their consumers.

But how can they, especially in the U.S., where Wall Street cares about only one thing: growth and more growth.  I don’t see how companies can make real progress until the investment system changes.  A somewhat better junk food is still a junk food, alas.

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  • Anton

    If you made ‘junk food’ illegal tomorrow, would obesity go away? Would people’s health improve? Did Prohibition make people stop drinking?

  • Gee, every horizontal surface in our pediatrician’s office was piled high with “take one” stacks of “growing a healthy kid” magazine-format propaganda, sponsored by Nestlé (the company). Achieving and maintaining healthy weights for kids through diet and exercise were major themes throughout the magazine. Of course there were also ample sidebars for Nestlé products (like sugary Quik chocolate and strawberry milk flavoring mix), you know, as part of a “balanced diet”. I’m willing to bet that Nestlé gets PR and bureaucratic kudos for doing their part to combat childhood obesity, too. Not from me, though.