Profits And Pandemics: Prevention Of Harmful Effects Of Tobacco, Alcohol, And Ultra-Processed Food And Drink Industries

Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 45.22). 02/2013; 381(9867):670-9. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62089-3
Source: PubMed


The 2011 UN high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) called for multisectoral action including with the private sector and industry. However, through the sale and promotion of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink (unhealthy commodities), transnational corporations are major drivers of global epidemics of NCDs. What role then should these industries have in NCD prevention and control? We emphasise the rise in sales of these unhealthy commodities in low-income and middle-income countries, and consider the common strategies that the transnational corporations use to undermine NCD prevention and control. We assess the effectiveness of self-regulation, public-private partnerships, and public regulation models of interaction with these industries and conclude that unhealthy commodity industries should have no role in the formation of national or international NCD policy. Despite the common reliance on industry self-regulation and public-private partnerships, there is no evidence of their effectiveness or safety. Public regulation and market intervention are the only evidence-based mechanisms to prevent harm caused by the unhealthy commodity industries.

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    • "The increase in consumption of unhealthy food and drinks is occurring fastest now in poorer ('developing') countries where the food systems are highly penetrated by foreign multinationals (Stuckler et al., 2012) and the state institutions are usually not capable of controlling corporate leverage; but even in advanced countries, the only mechanisms that have clearly been shown to prevent the harm caused by unhealthy commodities are public regulation and market intervention (Moodie et al., 2013; WHO, 2013). This means more state, not less. "
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    • "The increased consumption of highly processed foods—which is deemed a part of the 'nutrition transition'—has paralleled the increase in rates of obesity and the rise in incidence of diabetes and other chronic diseases in the South (Friel & Lichacz, 2010; Moodie et al., 2013). The growing concern—on the part of governments, nutrition and health experts, and the wider public—over the diet-related health problems associated with the over-consumption of highlyprocessed foods and beverages has in turn posed a number of challenges and threats to these corporations. "
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