A book published in 2004 purported to give “the inside story of the food industry, America’s obesity crisis, and what we can do about it.” So the obesity issue has been around a while!
The book’s title (it’s still in print) is Food Fight: The Inside Story of The Food Industry, America’s Obesity Crisis, and What We Can Do About It. Its authors, Kelly Brownell and Katherine Battle Horgen, stated that “There are many, many cases where business interests conflict with public health. People deserve to know how and when this occurs and the impact it has on them and their children.”
They pointed to the huge agribusiness companies that control a large amount of the American food chain. Called Big Food, these companies are in turn owned by larger companies. For instance, Marie Callender’s is owned by ConAgra, Aunt Jemima is owned by PepsiCo, and Haagen-Dazs is owned by General Mills. Brands that one would think are independent are often owned by a well-known household name we all grew up with. Kool-Aid is owned by Kraft. Betty Crocker is owned by General Mills. Rice-A-Roni is owned by PepsiCo.
The same Big Food concept applies to the pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies in this country. Many people know about Big Pharma, from the ongoing spate of drug recalls and problems that have intensified in the last few years (Vioxx et al.), but know very little about Big Cosmetics. For more on “who owns whom” in this arena, and why it matters, stay tuned for an upcoming post from The Wellness Librarian.