Childhood Obesity = Big Bucks, Part 4

Don Witz

Yesterday, Childhood Obesity News mentioned how, whenever the sugar-sweetened beverage industry is threatened with some legal restriction, like not being eligible for SNAP (food stamps) purchase, other corporations tend to pile on. Lawyers emerge from the woodwork and lobbyists fling bribes at legislators. In a world where the humble potato (or its boss, the Frozen Potato Products Institute) will fight for the rights of fizzy drinks, who knows what could happen next.

The battles don’t only take place in courtrooms. Ordinary people are puzzled when their hardcore political beliefs are challenged by the numerous arguments on either side, and find themselves in dinner-table arguments with family members. Here is how Stan Cox broke it down for

Proposed restrictions have been condemned by many food banks and economic-justice organizations, who argue that it’s paternalistic and unfair for the government to try to dictate the food purchases of low-income families while everyone else is left to choose freely… Most of the opposition to a soda ban among food-rights groups is indeed aimed at protecting the interests of SNAP participants. But in some cases, motives appear to be more problematic.

One example he gives is the confused Food Research and Action Council (FRAC), which has been described as the premier anti-hunger group in Washington. The childhood obesity epidemic is another of the group’s concerns. Its “About” page says:

Counterintuitively, obesity plagues low-income people in this country just as hunger and food insecurity do. FRAC is leading the efforts to identify and communicate the connections among poverty, hunger, inadequate resources for healthy diets, and obesity among low-income people. FRAC also is working to broaden the reach of and improve the quality of public nutrition programs as a strategy to reduce obesity.

On the other hand, the organization’s Legislative Priorities page clearly states:

Congress must protect and strengthen SNAP by opposing any proposals to cap or reduce funding, restrict eligibility, reduce benefits, or make harmful structural changes.

Cox hints that FRAC envisions humiliating checkout-stand encounters between grocery store personnel and SNAP recipients who demand explanations for why they can’t buy microwavable chocolate-covered bacon nachos. Also, there is a civil liberties principle in operation, a belief that adults should make their own decisions about consuming nutritious meals or junk, even if they are on food stamps. Many Americans feel the same way, that the government is too darn paternalistic or (switching gender but preserving the spirit of the complaint) too much like the dreaded Nanny State.

On the other hand, FRAC takes money from Walmart, Sara Lee, Mars, Con-Agra, Coke, Pepsi, the Snack Food Association, and the American Beverage Association. Well, it is a nonprofit, and its operating expenses have to come from somewhere. And it seems to have done a lot of good things for the economically underprivileged. So is this a genuine and serious conflict of interest, or just a sadly necessary price of doing business inside the beltway?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Soda Industry Cashes In on Govt. Food Assistance Programs to Tune of $4 Billion a Year,”, 05/07/13
Source: “About FRAC,”
Image by Tracy Jones71.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources