The discussion about relationships between public health and the food industry continues…
Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Health, and Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University, writes:
“Stephen Leeder makes a well argued plea for people to quit blasting the food industry with moral indignation and to work with them to find solutions to the food over-supply and over-promotion which are important drivers of our current obesity epidemic.
Indeed, there are many, many nutritionists, food technologists, dietitians and researchers working with the food industry helping them to re-formulate and market their products. This is largely positive but that is not the role of everyone.
Public health is politics and effective public health gains have always had as a driving force the combination of passion and science being brought to the political debate. The passion, which I like to think comes from a strong ethical basis rather than a quasi-religious moralistic basis, is an essential ingredient to progress and I would be interested in the rationale or evidence that it is making things worse.
If the passionate advocates, like Rosemary Stanton, had not continually spoken out about the ways that the food industry has been contributing to the obesity problem and has been white-anting the solutions, we would have made very little progress.
It is an unfortunate fact of politics that Rosemary’s approach will more likely catalyse the ‘banging heads’ meeting of the PM and the industry CEOs that Stephen talks about than will the cooperative approach of the embedded nutritionist or the industry-funded scientist.
But both are important for progress.”