If there ever was a sober voice in this world’s considerable madness around weight loss, it’s the National Weight Control Registry. Based in Rhode Island, it tracks more than 10,000 people who’ve been keeping an average of 70 pounds off for more than 6 years, and its purpose is to learn what helps these people keep it off.
So it was with considerable surprise that I read the comments of James Hill of the University of Colorado, Denver, who co-founded the registry. If I were a flamer, I would be shouting WTF at the guy right now.
Speaking at the European Congress on Obesity in the UK on Monday, he encouraged Big Food corporations to continue to put the focus on exercise as the cause for obesity, rather than their products.
Granted, he spoke in the context of “as long as companies are also doing what they can to reformulate their products and provide single serve portions and lower calorie options,” according to Caroline Scott-Thomas’s story on foodnavigator.com. But that nuance will never again be quoted, at least not in all the sure-to-come regurgitations of his support from Big Food.
Worse, Hill went beyond mere encouragement:
“My sense is if you are marketing foods other than fruits and vegetables to a sedentary population, I think promoting physical activity has to be right in the centre of your business.”
So now it’s not only “that’s OK,” it’s “you should be”? Sort of an owner’s manual for junk food? Like the poisonous pesticides purveyor that warns its customers that to use the product safely, they need use eye protection and heavy rubber gloves?
Taking that analogy one step further, I’d much prefer the noxious-goods manufacturer focus on making its products safer for everyone, instead of being satisfied by teaching users how to minimize the damage it causes.
Yes, Hill addressed that side, too, but that’s not what’s going to be seized upon.