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Former advertising executive reveals junk food-pushing tactics

Dan Parker spent two decades working with ‘big food’ corporations – until obesity-related type 2 diabetes made him decide to change direction.

Source: The Guardian

Former advertising executive reveals junk food-pushing tactics | myfoodistry

A former advertising executive who spent two decades working with “big food” corporations has revealed how they are still working to persuade us to eat more sugar and junk food in spite of the obesity epidemic.

Dan Parker, who was a successful advertising executive earning his living promoting Coca Cola and McDonalds, told the Guardian in his first interview that the food industry is behaving like Big Tobacco. “I think what the food industry does now will define where it lands. If it behaves like tobacco it will end up being treated like tobacco. And I think it is behaving like tobacco,” said the former industry insider.

Parker’s life changed when he was diagnosed with obesity-related type 2 diabetes, the disease that killed his father. In a “lightbulb moment”, he realised he could help save people’s lives by using his skills to try to help curb the junk food we eat.

Parker founded a charity called Living Loud, bringing on board others from marketing and advertising. In their first year of existence, they have helped anti-obesity campaigners like the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation understand the industry and communicate their messages.

Asking the industry, supermarkets and advertising agencies to voluntarily dial down what they do will not work, he says. They need limits imposed by government so that everyone is on a level playing field. Parker cites the shrinking size of chocolate bars to illustrate how voluntarism is not working. Manufacturers have produced smaller portion sizes, but they have not cut the prices.

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