Home > Diet and nutrition > News Updated 13 February 2013 Food industry undermines health policy Multinational food, drink and alcohol companies are using strategies similar to those employed by the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies. 0 iStock Related Probiotics: food for thought? Vit & Min doses per day » Count calories in food » Is my vegetarian diet balanced? » Ask The Dietitians » 10 foods to boost your immune system Your quick guide to Banting Multinational food, drink and alcohol companies are using strategies similar to those employed by the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies, health experts said.In an international analysis of involvement by so-called "unhealthy commodity" companies in health policy-making, researchers from Australia, Britain, Brazil and elsewhere said self-regulation was failing and it was time the industry was regulated more stringently from outside. The researchers said that through the aggressive marketing of ultra-processed food and drink, multinational companies were now major drivers of the world's growing epidemic of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.Writing in The Lancet medical journal, the researchers cited industry documents they said revealed how companies seek to shape health legislation and avoid regulation. This is done by "building financial and institutional relations" with health professionals, non-governmental organisations and health agencies, distorting research findings, and lobbying politicians to oppose health reforms, they said.They cited analysis of published research which found systematic bias from industry funding: articles sponsored exclusively by food and drinks companies were between four and eight times more likely to have conclusions that favored the companies than those not sponsored by them."Regulation, or the threat of regulation, is the only way to change these transnational corporations," wrote the researchers, led by Rob Moodie from the University of Melbourne in Australia.'Public regulation'Ian Gilmore, special adviser on alcohol to Britain's Royal College of Physicians said the findings were "a final nail in the coffin" of the idea that involving the alcohol industry in public health measures could work."Any government serious about public health should in future divorce its public health activities from industry involvement," Gilmore, who was not involved in study, said in a statement. Responding to the study's criticisms, UNESDA, which represents the non-alcoholic drinks industry in Europe, said experts recognise obesity has many causes including diet, lack of exercise, genetics and lack of nutritional knowledge. It added that, within the EU, the European Commission had opted to take a "multi-stakeholder approach gathering governments, industry, the healthcare community and civil society to work together to teach people how to eat better, take more exercise and lead healthy, balanced lifestyles". The researchers said, however, that their evidence showed this collaborative approach had failed. They recommended that, in future, food, drinks and tobacco firms should have no role in national or international policies on chronic diseases. Instead, they proposed a system of "public regulation" which they said would focus on directly pressuring industry by "raising awareness of their shady practices and maintaining active public pressure". More in Diet and nutrition Mediterranean diet may help prevent macular degeneration More: Diet and nutritionNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Sex US STIs hit all-time high in 2015 Medical Human right-handedness might go back almost 2 million years Mental health Troubled childhood may boost bipolar risk Diet and nutrition Our genes may soon advise our food and lifestyle choices Lifestyle Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Medical Don't believe these asthma myths From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Win 1 of 6 R5000 cash prizes Win Skin Renewal voucher Live healthier Exercise benefits for seniors » Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them. No relief for MS » Drug shows promise against MS in mouse study Vitamin D may slow multiple sclerosis Obesity in girls tied to higher MS risk Exercise may not lower women's risk of MS A Harvard study showed no evidence to support the idea that exercise lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis.