Obesity doctor Yoni Freedhoff was invited by the Ontario Medical Association recently to give a talk at a food industry breakfast on health and nutrition policy — and was then suddenly disinvited
Ticked off, he’s decided to take his talk to a broader audience
Freedhoff, a professor at the University of Ottawa and founder of Ottawa’s Bariatric Medical Institute who is outspoken on nutrition issues, describes the experience on his blog, Weighty Matters. He writes that he prepared his talk on what he thought the food industry could do to help further public health — but then was told a few days before the event that its organizers, public relations company Fleishman-Hillard Canada, didn’t want him to attend after all.
Since he had already had prepared his talk and slides, he decided to go ahead and present it anyway — on YouTube
Freedhoff’s talk is not exactly flattering about the industry’s marketing practices. Narrating against a succession of slides that feature processed food such as Froot Loops with sprinkles, Fruit Twists and more, the doctor begins: “I think the food industry could stop suggesting that fibre and whole grains make sugary cereals a good idea. I think the food industry could stop putting cartoon characters on the front of cereal boxes and paying for stores to put them at eye level for kids. … I think the food industry could stop talking about no sugar being added to things”
He devotes a fair amount of the talk on the ‘no sugar added’ marketing practice, which he terms “disingenuous.” He says, for example, that Del Monte Fruit Twists contain more sugar than Twizzlers and 10 times the sugar of apples by weight, that Sunrype Fun Bites are 79% sugar by weight, that Welch’s grape juice contains 10.5 teaspoons of sugar in every glass
Of course, since this is a Canadian talk, some of the ads Freedhoff highlights have a distinctly Canadian flavour. An advertisement for Vitamin Water suggest these drinks might be an antidote to those who routinely partake of poutine, a Canadian delicacy consisting of french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy. Could it also be an antidote to deep fried Mars bars?
Freedhoff adds that he doesn’t really blame the food industry: “It’s not their job to do anything but try to sell food.” He blames us, and public health officials and governments, “because we could theoretically do something about it”