New Year’s Wish to Hold Big Food Accountable

Roberta Ness, Dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health, writes in an essay in the Houston Chronicle that her wish for 2013 is that the U.S. would hold the big food accountable and stop blaming people with obesity for the epidemic. She believes we should reduce obesity by taking lessons from the efforts against tobacco and smoking. In outlining this approach, she skillfully avoids the limitations of applying the tobacco model to food.

First, we need to educate the public on the impact of different food choices. Pizza only seems like a good choice until you find out it can represent one-quarter of a day’s allotment of calories and half of the allotment of fat. Ness also would like to see subsidies removed from corn, wheat, and soy — which make up much of the content of heavily processed food — and given instead to fruits and vegetables. As with cigarettes, she’d like to see more marketing restrictions on Big Food. Finally, she’d like to see the government hold Big Food more accountable for the obesity epidemic.

Ness believes we need nothing less than to radically re-frame the obesity problem, using tools she describes in Innovation Generation: How to Produce Creative and Useful Scientific Ideas.

Click here to read the Houston Chronicle essay and here to her full essay on the subject in Psychology Today.

Wish image © Jessica Tam / Wikimedia Commons