I had no idea that tobacco companies controlled food companies once upon a time. It even appears that they weren’t just successful at getting us hooked on cigarettes but junk food as well. Imagine being so, um, multitalented?
In a recent episode of Causes or Cures, I chatted with Dr. Tera Fazzino about her research on how the biggest US tobacco companies owned the leading food companies from 1988 to early 2000s and disproportionately produced hyper-palatable foods (HPFs). She explains what a hyper-palatable food is and how they are created, the theory for why some Americans get hooked on them, and how these foods may impact our health. Then she takes us back in history to describe when and why the tobacco industries controlled food companies (Kraft, Nabisco, General Foods…) and how her and her team determined that they were making hyper-palatable foods. She also discusses what is happening with the current food industry, why this is a big public health issue, and what we can do to move toward a healthier food supply.
Folks, given our epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases, this is a big deal! I also want to remind everyone that tobacco companies coined the term “junk science” to create doubt about the dangers of second-hand smoke. They hired scientists and researchers to do that for them. This should serve as a reminder to why no one entity should ever have control over what is misinformation and what is factual.
Dr. Fazzino is Associate Director of the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment at the University of Kansas and a Professor in the Department of Psychology. She has a doctorate in experimental psychology and her research focuses on addiction, obesity, eating disorders and health-risk behaviors.
You can tune into the episode on how tobacco companies controlled food companies here.
Also, if you are interested in other musings from the wellness blog, check out this piece I wrote on what the healthiest diet and workout plan is