Former food-industry executive and current anti-obesity advocate Cardello calls on his erstwhile colleagues to become custodians of their customers’ well-being.
Few would deny that obesity is a plague on the land. The question is, what to do about it? The author's answer: Let the food industry clean up the disaster it facilitated. Can the perpetrators reform? Certainly, asserts Cardello, because they won’t be surrendering what is most important to them—a fat bottom line. As he points out, they can easily make healthier, just-as-tasty versions of the stuff they now sell, which is slowly killing the hand that feeds that bottom line. Given their lack of table discipline and impulse control, consumers currently inhaling bacon cheeseburgers and washing them down with another 48-ounce soda aren’t the answer, Cardello concludes. Nor is the government, which has been at best inept and at worst utterly bewildering regarding food healthiness. Least of all can various agenda-driven groups be trusted to come up with anything other than bad science and pettifogging. Only industry has access to the resources, research and infrastructure to immediately fashion foods offering less caloric and greater nutritional intake, declares the author. All it needs is a mindset that fosters responsible behavior. Will customers, traditionally suspicious of flavorless “healthy” foods, go for the improved regimen? Why even tell them? Cardello proposes a simple switcheroo: “Making a food or beverage more nutritious without bragging about it to the consumer. In fact, keeping consumers in the dark about these improvements might be an even bigger advantage.” This Big Brotherish approach raises a number of questions. Do flavorings themselves have potential health hazards? Where’s the oversight? Who decides what’s healthful or not? In addition, the subject of healthy food by ineluctable extension requires addressing environmental and agricultural policy issues, which Cardello avoids.
Nonetheless, the point zings home: The food industry knows how to sell; now it has to sell the right thing.