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". NEXT ON HEALTH24X What energy drink in SA is the worst for you? 2018-07-15 00:00 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 News SEE: Leech therapy saves woman's nose after botched surgery Lifestyle Here's why you should stay with one doctor for life News Good Sex? Bad Sex? Rad Sex? Fitness How to prevent the 5 most common gym injuries Fitness Use this workout plan to master the superman push-up in under a month Diet and nutrition 8 prebiotic foods you should probably add to your diet From our sponsors Tell-tale signs you need a mattress upgrade Keen to win a R2 000 voucher? Good health begins in your gastrointestinal tract ACC 200 works fast to break down mucus Live healthier Contraceptives and you » Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents' 7 birth control myths you should stop believing Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control. Your digestive health » Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.