Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A look inside America on the Move

The press today is buzzing about the Partnership to Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living that has organized a national initiative, "America on the Move," to encourage healthy eating and increased physical activity for individuals and groups of people interested in participating together.

Tomorrow, September 28th, is designated as the "Day of Action" to sign up and be entered into a drawing for a number of prizes.

Sounds good so far, doesn't it?

Well, not so fast.

America on the Move is sponsored by Pepsico. That's right, the makers of Pepsi, Frito-Lays Chips, Gatorade and Tropicana Juice among other things.

Couldn't the organizers find any non-food industry sponsor, like say, a pedometer manufacturer - which would have been more appropriate?

Ah, but it gets better...the parent of America on the Move, the Partnership to Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living is sponsored by:

  • PepsiCo's Smart Spot Products
  • Cargill
  • Masterfoods USA

As part of their organization, they have a conference and summit, and these are or were sponsored by:

Conference Sponsors
Summit on Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living: Developing a Framework for Progress

  • Underwriters
    Kellogg Company
    Knoll Pharmaceutical Company
    Kraft Foods
    Masterfoods USA
    The Procter & Gamble Company
    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    Roche Laboratories
  • Contributors
    American Diabetes Association
    Consumer Federation of America
    Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association

Summit Sponsors
An Economic Analysis of Eating and Physical Activity Behaviors: Exploring Effective Strategies to Combat Obesity

  • Major Donors
    The Coca-Cola Company
    Kraft Foods
    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Other Contributors
    General Mills
    Kaiser Permanente
    Kellogg Company
    The Procter & Gamble Company
Are you starting to see a common thread here? The vast majority of the sponsors have a vested interest in you eating their products, many which are not exactly your best options for healthy eating!

While I applaude the idea to start a national initiative to encourage people to eat healthy and get more active, I remain suspicious of an organization that relies so heavily on food industry money. The conflict of interest is so glaring in this organization, that I have to wonder if its initative, America on the Move was started as a public relations effort by the food companies that are right now in the cross-hairs of the national debate on the obesity epidemic we're facing.

I think what we need is a national organization that is founded, supported and financed exclusively by researchers, scientists and medical professionals and is dedicated to the science, without interference or influence from industry. Industry has too much at stake to be part of the debate - the temptation to sway the interpretation of the data too great.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I'm writing an article critique about a study promoting AOM as means to weight gain prevention. The authors declare no financial conflict of interest, however the research was funded in part by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC., makers of SPLENDA and national program sponsors of AOM. Interesting...