In a move that seems as sensible as asking your creepy uncle who just got out of jail to babysit for the weekend, the UK is looking to such luminaries in the health food industry as McDonald’s, KFC and Pepsi for assistance in writing government policy on obesity and other health problems.
According to UK paper The Guardian, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five “responsibility deal” networks with various businesses to help come up with policies on everything from obesity to alcohol abuse.
Writes the Guardian:
The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises… The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal’s sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo.
The leading supermarkets are an equally strong presence, while the responsibility deal’s physical activity group is chaired by the Fitness Industry Association, which is the lobby group for private gyms and personal trainers.
In response to criticism about the involvement of the private sector in writing health policy, the Dept. of Health writes:
We are constantly in touch with expert bodies, including those in the public health field, to help inform all our work. For the forthcoming public health white paper we’ve engaged a wide range of people, as we are also doing to help us develop the responsibility deal drawn from business, the voluntary sector, other non-governmental organisations, local government, as well as public health bodies. A diverse range of experts are also involved.