The Selling Of Olestra

November 09, 1998

In a 30-year, $500 million effort to bring its fat substitute, olestra, to market, the Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) enlisted support from Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and food, nutrition, and health professionals. P&G is expected to recoup its costs by the end of 1999. A case study in the November/December issue of Public Health Reports implies that public and academic alliances with industry will continue to favor corporate interests over public health until decision makers are more vigilant in keeping public health goals at the forefront of health policies.

Marion Nestle, Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University and member of the Science Board of the FDA, reviews the history of olestra's approval. FDA's decision to approve olestra as a safe food additive while requiring foods containing it to carry a warning about olestra's potential hazards is used as a model to examine the relationships between corporations and government and health professionals. She describes how the conflicts of interest inherent in these relationships are clouded further when financial relationships between corporation and consultants or health associations are not disclosed.

Nestle calls for several changes in the growing trend by the current food, nutrition and health policy regulatory system to move toward alliances with industries. In the olestra case, the FDA accepted the company's research, and switched the burden of proof to critics to prove demonstrable harm. She suggests, instead, that Congress revise statutes to increase the FDA's research authority and funding, and that FDA be granted greater authority, not less, to regulate health and nutrition claims on package labels.

Funding for nutrition education cannot compete with the $30 billion spent annually for advertising by food companies. But to counter the effects of such massive industry spending, the author calls for using creative policy approaches to promote healthful dietary changes by increasing agricultural supports, food regulations, food assistance programs, nutrition services and training, and food and nutrition monitoring and research.
-end-
Contact Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH; tel. 212-998-5595; fax 212-995-4194; email ">marion.nestle@nyu.edu.
-end-


Public Health Reports

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.