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October 15, 2008

Can the Food Industry Play a Constructive Role in the Obesity Epidemic?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Ludwig); and Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, New York, New York (Dr Nestle).

JAMA. 2008;300(15):1808-1811. doi:10.1001/jama.300.15.1808

In response to increasing rates of obesity, many food companies have announced policies of corporate responsibility. McDonald's claims, “[we] empower individuals to make informed choices about how to maintain the essential balance between energy intake (calories consumed as food) and energy expenditure (calories burned in physical activity).”1 Coca-Cola states, “we have launched new broad-based physical and nutrition education programs that reach even the least athletic students.”2 PepsiCo says, “we can play an important role in helping kids lead healthier lives by offering healthy product choices in schools, by developing healthy products that appeal to kids and by promoting programs that encourage kids to lead active lives.”3 Kraft says, “helping children and their families make heal thy food choices while encouraging physical activity has become part of how Kraft gives back to communities.”4 In light of such statements, should the food industry be welcomed as a constructive partner in the campaign against obesity?

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