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Doctors question government collaboration with alcohol and food industry

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 29 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6128
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

Leading doctors have questioned the government’s plans to collaborate with the food and drinks industry as part of efforts to improve public health.

During a BMA organised debate on health inequalities on 28 October, England’s health secretary, Andrew Lansley, was questioned over a comment about “collaborative working” with the drink and food industry.

A question was posed by an audience member about the “vested” interests of the private sector, specifically the alcohol and food industry, when it took part in discussions with the government and clinicians over how to improve public health and whether there was a conflict of interests.

Mr Lansley said, “A couple of years ago the Nuffield Council on Bioethics produced what I found was a very helpful illustration of what they described as a ladder or hierarchy of interventions. At the bottom of it was to do nothing, but it went up with starting to impact on behaviour change, influencing choices, default choices, intervention, and possibly introducing a full ban on something.

“We know that tobacco control is quite high up that ladder due to the necessity of doing so because the less intrusive measures have not delivered the objectives we are looking for. In other areas, such as the consumption …

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