As those who have read this blog know, I have been a stronger believer in attacking the obesity issue systemically, rather than expecting individuals to accept personal responsibility in an environment that is extremely hostile to healthy eating habits.
The best book I have read on this subject was published recently. It is entitled Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s Making America Fat. The co-authors are Hank Cardello, the CEO of 27degreesNorth, a North Carolina company, and Doug Garr, an author. Cardello and Garr make several common-sense points:
- Expecting individuals to alter eating habits away from abundant, attractive “junk food” is a losing proposition. The best solution to the obesity problem is to make junk food healthier. There is a lot of innovation already in this space, and it needs to be accelerated and copied by all the food producers.
- To make junk food healthier, the food production companies, retail grocers, restaurants, and food service providers need to be able to sustain or grow profits in the process.
- Government’s best role is to convene the stakeholders who can make this happen, and to set goals, not to ban specific foods or ingredients.
- This transition to healthier foods is more likely to happen if it is done quietly, without a lot of fanfare. They describe a series of ideas in a brilliant chapter entitled “Stealth Health.”
- Food companies, grocers, and restaurants need to gravitate toward business models in which they make more money from selling smaller sizes and portions of everything. There is a potentially successful model in growing profit by selling less and charging more, but most food purveyors are simply afraid to try it.