A dietitian and nutrition educator associated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which promotes a vegan lifestyle and has apparently been associated with the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, draws parallels between the tobacco and food industries in an article titled “Why Big Food is the Big Tobacco of the 21st Century.” Susan Levin notes that in 1962, the Royal College of Physicians called for restricting tobacco advertising and sales to children and increasing the cigarette tax, and that within the last week the United Nations “made almost the exact same recommendations about unhealthful foods, which it says are now a bigger threat to global health than tobacco.”
Levin implies that the food industry distorts science to market a dangerous product, just like tobacco, and cites as an example how cigarette manufacturers reformulated their products to low-tar and filtered when sales declined “after early reports uncovered . . . health risks.” According to Levin, “Big Food” continues to sell meat and dairy products, albeit reformulated as low fat and low sodium to address public concerns about diets high in fat and salt, despite “[a] mountain of evidence link[ing] meat and dairy-heavy diets to cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.” She claims that the meat and dairy industry have an even deeper relationship with government than tobacco does and contends, “The battle currently raging on Capitol Hill to gut healthy school lunch standards is a perfect example of the food industry’s powerful sway over Congress.”
While she admits that Congress is unlikely in the near term to tax “Big Food,” crack down on “junk food” advertising to children and overhaul government subsidies as recommended by the United Nations, she concludes, “the sooner we start treating Big Food like Big Tobacco, the better off we’ll be.” See AL.com, June 9, 2014.