LONDON: 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 today.
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.