Corporate Accountability International Deputy Director Leslie Samuelrich contends in a recent AlterNet article that fast food companies “spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year marketing a dangerous product to America’s children.” She claims the companies deny putting children at risk and, instead, blame parents for their children’s obesity problems. According to Samuelrich, nonprofits and government agencies that promote healthy eating habits are not engaged in a “fair fight” with the industry, noting for example that the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation spends $100 million annually to address childhood obesity, while “major food and beverage corporations spend at least $1.6 billion in the United States every year—16 times more—to convince kids to eat unhealthy food.”

Corporate Accountability International, describing itself as a corporate watchdog, says that it has been “waging winning campaigns to challenge corporate abuse for more than 30 years.” It has conducted campaigns against the tobacco industry, publishing materials and handbooks and organizing boycotts against specific companies, and has taken on issues such as greenwashing, purported human rights violations abroad and “corporate control of water.” The organization’s summer 2010 newsletter claims that companies such as fast food corporations have taken “a lesson from Big Tobacco’s playbook,” and shield themselves from public accountability by recruiting medical experts to serve on advisory councils to “create[] the appearance the corporation is committed to children’s health.” See AlterNet.org, October 20, 2010.