04 July 2012

Obesity Crisis Made Worse By Food Industry Policies and Practices

Obesity is a condition where person has too much body fat.

This happens when the calorie intake is more than what the body burns. The unused calories is stored as fat by the body.

Obesity is not a psychological problem as many think. People do not consciously choose to be obese. Changes in the environment where food is readily available and physical activities are diminished contribute to the prevalence of obesity.

This is not to be confused with being overweight. Being overweight, which is also unhealthy for anyone, does not necessarily mean that the person has too much fat. An overweight person may be so because of extra muscles, heavier bones, or extra water in the body's system.

Some factors that can contribute to obesity are:
  • Historical eating and dietary behavior since childhood
  • Easy accessibility to food combined with minimal physical activity
  • Unhealthy or unplanned diet
  • Less physical jobs at work
  • Lack of time to exercise

The food industry should be regulated

"The obesity crisis is made worse by the way industry formulates and markets its products and so must be regulated to prevent excesses and to protect the public good," writes a leading food expert in this week's PLoS Medicine.

Kelly Brownell from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University argues that like all industries, the food industry plays by certain rules: "It must defend its core practices against all threats, produce short-term earnings, and in do doing, sell more food. If it distorts science, creates front groups to do its bidding, compromises scientists, professional organizations, and community groups with contributions, blocks needed public health policies in the service of their goals, or engages in other tactics in ''the corporate playbook,'' this is what is takes to protect business as usual."

Video: Obesity and the Fast Food Life

He argues that left to regulate itself, the food industry has the opportunity, if not the mandate from shareholders, to sell more products irrespective of their impact on consumers so government, foundations, and other powerful institutions should be working for regulation, not collaboration and says: "Respectful dialogue with industry is desirable, and to the extent industry will make voluntary changes that inch us forward, the public good will be served."

However Brownell cautions: "There must be recognition that this will bring small victories only and that to take the obesity problem seriously will require courage, leaders who will not back down in the face of harsh industry tactics, and regulation with purpose."


Public Library of Science
Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
Yale University
Thinking Forward: The Quicksand of Appeasing the Food Industry
The Science of Food
Exercise and Eating Less Fat More Likely To Result In Weight Loss Than Popular Diets
SFRP5 Molecule Identified As A Factor In Accumulating Fat In The Body
Poor Eating Habits At Work May Lead to Obesity, Diabetes and Other Disease
Food Insecurity, Fear of Not Enough Food, May Lead To Obesity
Eating Schedule and Biological Clock Important Factor In Obesity
Study On Ephedrine And Weight Loss May Lead To Wearable Diet Vest That Burns Fat
Ursolic Acid In Apple Peels Reduces Obesity And Associated Health Problems