November 9, 2012 by locklearcr
In a perfect world, we could all be friends, hold hands around a campfire, and joke lightly about our disagreements. Unfortunately, that is not the reality in the contrasting worlds of public health and private sector companies.
Now I wouldn’t go off and say that it is totally naive to think that we couldn’t work together (successfully) on some level and in certain situations, I’d say it’s just very optimistic. The relationship between public health efforts and the agenda of the private sector kind of follows those old cliches allude to hypocrisy; “practice what you preach” and the like.
As seen on the “Food Industry- Friend or Foe?” debate, the main responsibility of the business to make a profit. The end. What about public health? Typically, their goals do not involve making money- their focus is on quite literally the health of the public. It is not hard to see how joining forces might not be successful for either party.
As the article “Public health sector and food industry…” suggests, we have to change what it means to have a ‘partnership’ with each other, and we must be clear in our goals and expectations. We may think we have a cohesive partnership, but the underlying intents do not match up and the only connection seems to be marketing and money.
A tremendous example of a public/private “partnership” is that the Academy is sponsored by huge companies such as Coca-cola, Pepsico, Hershey’s, and Kellogg’s just to name a few. How the heck can we send a meaningful, powerful message about eating healthier, choosing more whole foods, avoiding processed/fast foods, etc. when the very people who support us monetarily sit on the opposite end of the spectrum? Ay, there’s the rub.
In order to work together, we’d have to share a goal, and I’m not sure if that doesn’t seem very feasible at this point. Calorie-dense foods are what rake in the dough, due to ingenious manipulation of mouthfeel, and sugar/fat/salt ratios. What motivation do these companies have to change their methods? Can we tell them, “change your product and make less money, because it’s the right thing to do”?
In the food industry’s defense, they are slowly shifting toward offering healthier products. At FNCE, big name companies were shifting to low/zero-calorie beverages more than ever before, and others had changed their original products making them lower in calories/fat/sugar. It’s a start- a baby step. They’re trying, but maybe it’s too little too late.
Also, with the never ending bombardment of brands, labels, and advertisement working with health endeavors, there’s still a huge gap.Where’s the fresh produce? Where’s the cooking at home, with your family? If Pizza Hut and KFC are backing these ‘health check’, ‘heart smart’ efforts, what are we telling people? We’re lacking the most important messages because we’re selling out.