Two major national anti-obesity campaigns supported by first lady Michelle Obama and former President Clinton treat overweight Americans as “idiots” too dumb to figure out what's good for them, according to a new academic study.
Worse, said the study from a George Washington University professor, the Obama-backed Partnership for a Healthier America and Clinton supported Alliance for a Healthier Generation blame consumers and not the makers of unhealthy food for the obesity epidemic.
“I found that these organizations might more appropriately be called the Partnership for a Healthier Bottom Line,' ” said associate sociologist professor Ivy Ken in the influential academic journal Social Currents.
While giving cover to the food makers, the child anti-obesity groups “turn overweight and obese people into idiots” by addressing them as “an assortment of individuals who do not know any better than to make bad choices,” she wrote in the study titled, “A Healthy Bottom Line: Obese Children, a Pacified Public, and Corporate Legitimacy.”
Ken said that by partnering with food makers, the two groups help companies convince the public that they are helping to end obesity – not making it worse with their products heavy with fat, sugar and salt.
“The obesity crisis is the impetus for a particular new marketing plan, which is given a great deal of publicity, clout, and legitimacy through the PHA,” she wrote of the group linked to Obama's “Let's Move” initiative. Obama is on the PHA leadership team.
“Tactically,” Ivy added, corporate partners “have not only managed a threatening issue but also bolstered corporate legitimacy in the process.”
She attended a 2013 PHA health summit where Obama spoke and was surprised at how the group promoted its corporate partners. “I expected to hear a rousing speech from Mrs. Obama, but I was unprepared for the massive coordination apparent in the PHA’s message and the approval that the conference’s public health-focused attendees bestowed upon all the corporate speakers at the event,” wrote Ivy.
The Obama-backed group has about 50 corporate sponsors including Nestle and Sara Lee, while the Clinton-backed Alliance has about 120 partners including PepsiCo and J&J Snack Foods.
Ivy’s study, made available to Secrets, suggests that corporations worried about being blamed for the obesity crisis often used marketing terms to sound pro-health, and partner with the two groups to give their effort legitimacy.
She recommends that corporations earn the support of the anti-obesity groups by producing low-fat products, not supporting the Clinton and Obama groups.
“Corporations should have to earn place at the table of influence, not by buying it, but by spending decades not producing fat-, sugar-, and salt-laden products,” she wrote.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.