As we've been saying, food is the new tobacco
Friday, March 10, 2017 at 10:15
Simon Clark

Some of you may have read reports this week about plain packaging for high calorie food.

According to the Guardian:

Selling high calorie foods in plain packaging could help in the battle against obesity according to a leading researcher who has won a share of the most lucrative prize in neuroscience for his work on the brain’s reward system.

The colourful wrapping and attractive advertising of calorie-rich foods encourage people to buy items that put them at risk of overeating and becoming obese in the future, said Wolfram Schultz, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge.

“We should not advertise, propagate or encourage the unnecessary ingestion of calories,” Schultz said at a press conference held on Monday to announce the winners of the 2017 Brain Prize. “There should be some way of regulating the desire to get more calories. We don’t need these calories.”

“Colourful wrapping of high energy foods of course makes you buy more of that stuff and once you have it in your fridge, it’s in front of you every time you open the fridge and ultimately you’re going to eat it and eat too much,” he added.

There was a flurry of excitement on Twitter with lots of 'I told you so' tweets.

I avoided the temptation but it's worth pointing out that the Tobacco Tactics website – which is the work of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath – still has an entry that reads:

In the plain packaging debate in the UK, Forest has led the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, which claims that if cigarettes are to be sold in plain packaging, it is only a matter of time before plain packaging and large health warnings will be applied to other consumer products, such as fizzy drinks, fatty foods and alcohol. However, although some public health advocates are calling for increased regulation on alcohol and food, the case of tobacco is unique.

Perhaps they should edit that page before they look even more stupid.

PS. Long before plain packaging was a serious threat I gave a speech to the Independent Seminar on the Open Society (ISOS), an annual one-day conference for 200 sixth-form students organised by the Adam Smith Institute.

The year was 2004 and the subject was 'Food is the new tobacco'. I got a decent reception but I don't think many believed me.

Now, perhaps, people will start listening.

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