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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

3rd and Final Installment of PLoS Medicine series on Big Food

Today we publish the remaining and final 3 articles commissioned for the PLoS Medicine series on Big Food – we think these are among the most important contributions to the debate on the food industry’s activities in health ever published.

Image Credit: Todd Hryckowian

First, two articles provide perspectives from “the South.” As I mentioned in an earlier blogpost and in the launch editorial, it was a challenge finding authors from around the world, especially the developing world, because many had already established links with food companies (including some prominent authors in the field, which surprised me)—individuals with industry ties were not permitted to write for the series per our editorial policies and the goals of the series.

We are very pleased, therefore, to publish two independent analyses from “the South” that reinforce the issue of Big Food in health as an international one.

An Essay from Carlos Monteiro and Geoffrey Cannon provides a view from Brazil on the rise of multinational food companies and the displacement of traditional food systems, and offers suggestions for the public health response. And, a Policy Forum article by Corinna Hawkes and colleagues provides analysis from South Africa on the rise of multinational and domestic food companies, and argues that government should act urgently through education about the health risks of unhealthy diets, regulation of Big Food, and support for healthy foods.

Second, we publish today a perspective arguing for industry regulation (not collaboration) from one of the most prominent scholars in the field, Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and a frequent commentator on the obesity epidemic. His work examining the similarities between Big Food and Big Tobacco was game-changing, and in this week’s PLoS Medicine article he argues that:

When the history of the world’s attempt to address obesity is written, the greatest failure may be collaboration with and appeasement of the food industry.”

The entire PLoS Medicine series on Big Food is collected here. Please join the debate on twitter #plosmedbigfood or comment on the articles.

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