The debate between Derek Yach of PepsiCo and public health sceptics is being watched from afar.
Obesity control expert Professor Boyd Swinburn has sent in his observations while travelling in the US. He writes:
“I am currently in Boston and read with interest the comments about Derek Yach and Pepsi’s PR mission to Australia.
The TV in the US is currently carrying a series of advertisements about a regular Mom complaining that the government is thinking about raising taxes on foods and drinks (actually the talk is only about taxes on sugar-sweetened sodas).
“They say its only going to be pennies, and it may not matter to those people in Washington but it matters to me when I am struggling to feed my family”. Who is behind the ads: an outfit called Americans Against Food Taxes.
And who is behind this front group: Pepsi Co and all the other usual suspects.
One of the most powerful influences big food has is in undermining public health initiatives. Pretending to be the good guy at the same time gives it an even greater influence over government as we have recently seen with the softly, softly Preventative Health Taskforce report.
Derek used to speak for the benefit of public health, now he speaks for the benefit of food giants.”
• Boyd Swinburn is Professor of Population Health, and Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Obesity Prevention