Print Friendly and PDF
What to buy and not buy in April this year
Had a frustrating experience getting an item repaired? Let the FTC know what happened

Food industry supports ‘anti-diet’ advice to make more money as obesity, with health problems, increases

Steak-Young Woman Holding Plate 1807532_640It was startling years ago to learn that the goal of the food industry was to make food available on every street corner in the United States for 24 hours a day. The reason? To increase profits because the margins on food are low, so the best way to make more money is to get people to eat more food.

In addition, I wrote through the Obama years that, despite Michelle Obama’s interest in healthy food for kids, the administration supported voluntary efforts to reduce the amount of fat, sugar, and salt in food rather than regulations.

Now, again, the food industry is showing it’s ugly side.

An article in The Washington Post lays out how food marketers are jumping in on a new trend, the “anti-diet” movement, an approach that centers on the whole person and their overall health, rather than solely focusing on how much the person weighs.

However, internet influencers are now advocating “health at every size,” “making peace with food,” “body image healing,” “fat positivity,” “body and food freedom,” and “intuitive eating,” which is encouraging people to give up on their diets, leading to gaining back lost weight and increasing obesity.

One company, General Mills, maker of Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms cereals, has launched a multipronged campaign that capitalizes on the teachings of the anti-diet movement, an investigation by The Washington Post and The Examination, a nonprofit newsroom that covers global public health, has found.

The news organizations analyzed more than 6,000 social media posts by 68 registered dietitians with at least 10,000 followers. The analysis showed that about 40 percent of these influencers, with a combined reach of more than 9 million followers, repeatedly used anti-diet language.

Most of the influencers who used anti-diet language also were paid to promote products from food, beverage, and supplement companies, the analysis found.

The article includes links to videos of dietitians promoting unhealthy food and photos of a nutrition convention where dietitians waited in line to climb a giant yellow General Mills cereal box and slide into a bowl of plushie Cheerios.

In addition, General Mills has funded at least seven scientific studies since 2019 claiming that cereals are beneficial to consumers’ health, according to the article in The Washington Post “As Obesity Rises, Big Food and Dietitians Push ‘Anti-diet’ Advice.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who recently co-sponsored legislation to help establish more prominent nutrition labeling on the front of food packages, said in The Post article that food companies’ adoption of anti-diet messaging is especially pernicious.

“I think it is really reprehensible for the food industry to prey on the vulnerabilities of people who suffer from diabetes or obesity or diseases that are caused by excessive sugar, fat and perhaps other ingredients that do them harm,” Blumenthal said. “To tell people they should be proud of eating the wrong things, that’s hardly doing them a service.”

It's another tragic way the food industry is emphasizing its profits over the health of the American people.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Laurie Stone

Now with Ozempic, people are taking pharmaceuticals for losing weight. Instead of a healthy lifestyle, it's easier to take a pill and when they inevitably get diabetes, they take a pill for that too. It's terrible.


Yes, Laurie, I agree. Then, there are the side effects. I wrote about it here:

Carol A Cassara

The whole industry seems corrupt and unethical to me.


Yes, Carol. They lobby to keep Americans eating unhealthy food. A review of 30 food and beverage companies who spent the most on lobbying in 2020 showed they collectively doled out $38.2 million, roughly inline with their average during the past six years, according to data provided to Food Dive by the Center for Responsive Politics. Coca-Cola has been the biggest spender when it comes to money targeted annually for lobbying since 2015. The world’s largest nonalcoholic beverage company spent $5.83 million in 2020 on 24 lobbyists. No wonder there aren't regulations on the amount of salt, fat, and sugar in food and the industry touts voluntary standards.

Rebecca Olkowski

I believe in eating real food (not processed or packaged) in small portions. Most diets don't work because once a person is off the diet they gain the weight back. Same with Ozempic. I agree that it is dangerous when influencers promote that any shape is okay. It isn't. Obesity is not healthy. I need to lose some pounds myself. All my blood tests are great and I exercise. I don't take meds. But long-term stress from caregiving, etc., and cortisol have blown up my belly. Working on it.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)