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Industry advocate challenged to debate Obesity

Friday, August 18, 2006

Food industry advocate challenged to debate obesity issues

PALMERSTON NORTH – Marketing researcher Professor Janet Hoek has rejected claims by Food Industry Group chairman Jeremy Irwin that her call for more regulation as means of curbing obesity are part of a personal agenda.

“Unlike Mr Irwin, I am not paid to promote a particular position or to advance the interests of my organisation’s membership. If Mr Irwin wanted to find personal agendas, he would have had more success had he started his mission closer to home.”

Professor Hoek says her views are based on research findings, not prejudice, vested interest or financial gain, and, more importantly, they are shared by many other academic researchers from around the world.

“Internationally-recognised groups and researchers, such as Professor Gerard Hastings, Director of the UK-based Institute for Social Marketing, the US Institute of Medicine, the International Association of Consumer Food Organisations, the Washington-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest, and the World Health Organisation, have documented the role marketing plays in contributing to obesity.

In New Zealand, researchers from the University of Otago, the Wellington School of Medicine, and the University of Auckland have also called for greater regulation of the marketing practices used to promote foods high in fat, salt and sugar.”

“The evidence is compelling, and it is there for those who wish to see it. Attempts to label this debate as a personal agenda suggest a lack of awareness of the international work supporting calls for greater government intervention in this area.”

“I agree with Mr Irwin that simple measures, such as regulating advertising alone, are unlikely to work. This is precisely why we have called for a comprehensive approach that includes not only advertising, but sales promotions, sponsorship and supply arrangements.”

“History suggests that those who launch ad hominem attacks do so because they lack the ability or arguments (or both) to engage in rational discourse. It is most unfortunate that Mr Irwin has chosen this route instead of debating the issues we have raised.”


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