Corporate responsibility in public health

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3758 (Published 14 July 2010)
Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3758

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  1. Tim Lang, professor of food policy,
  2. Geof Rayner, honorary research fellow
  1. 1Centre for Food Policy, City University, London EC1V 0HB
  1. t.lang{at}city.ac.uk

    The government’s invitation to the food industry to fund social marketing on obesity is risky

    The secretary of state for health in England, Andrew Lansley, is certainly getting attention. This week, his department is involved in mooted plans to dismember the Food Standards Agency (FSA).1 A fortnight ago, at the BMA conference Mr Lansley seemed to dismiss the efforts of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to improve school food.2 Last week at the Faculty of Public Health conference, he raised eyebrows with proposals for the Change4Life social marketing campaign. “We will be progressively scaling back the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on Change4Life and asking others, including charities, the commercial sector, and local authorities, to fill the gap,” he said.3 With charities and local government seriously squeezed, this will hand the campaign over to the food industry.

    Change4Life was set up by the recent Labour government to encourage the population to “eat well, move more, live longer” in an attempt to reduce rocketing rates of obesity.4 The Conservatives praised it when they were in opposition, but few expected them to hand it over to food companies. It is widely accepted that the causes of obesity are complex and multifactorial. Putting the food industry in the driver’s seat of the policy strand oriented at culture change, which prided itself on …

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