In a review and analysis of tobacco and food industry practices, leading researchers from Yale University and the University of Michigan pinpoint similarities in strategies used across both industries.

This research, which appears in the March issue of Millbank Quarterly, identifies parallels in areas such as emphasizing personal responsibility, influencing government and professional organizations, paying scientists who produce favorable research, and marketing "safer" products. The authors encourage the food industry to change both marketing and nutritional practices to avoid negative consequences to the health of consumers.

"While we recognize the inherent differences between cigarettes and food, the food industry must accept responsibility for what they are selling and how they are selling it," said Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. "Consumers have a right to accurate information-not just spin-about the safety and nutritional value of the food they are eating."

Adds Kenneth Warner, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan: "It is irresponsible to ignore the approaches of the food industry to controversial issues on the heels of the deadly lessons learned from tobacco. Demanding key changes in the behavior of 'Big Food' today may save countless lives tomorrow."

Key recommendations for the food industry include:

- Market the benefits of foods in accordance with their actual health profiles;
- Sell only healthful products in places associated with the well-being of children (i.e. schools, hospitals); and
- Fully and publicly disclose names and amounts of money paid to non-industry scientists who produce favorable research.

Yale University

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