A new series in PLoS Medicine says we're going through another epidemiologic transition; this time it's a "nutrition transition", from a simple traditional diet to a highly processed food diet "resulting in a stark and sick irony: one billion people on the planet are hungry while two billion are obese or overweight". Can you guess who gets the blame? Can you guess what playbook they use? Here are some hints:
"In contrast to the actions of Big Tobacco, soda industry CSR initiatives are explicitly and aggressively profit-seeking." CSR = corporate social responsibility
Neoliberal policies, including the opening of markets to trade and foreign investment, create environments that are conducive to the widespread distribution of unhealthy commodities by multinational firms.
Big Food attains profit by expanding markets to reach more people, increasing people's sense of hunger so that they buy more food, and increasing profit margins through encouraging consumption of products with higher price/cost surpluses
So are we in the midst of yet another epidemiologic transition? The last one was a bust. It turned out that we never really left the age of infectious diseases. Our bet is that the war on "Big Food" may generate fees but will do little to alleviate either hunger or the obesity epidemic.