Processed Food – As Dangerous as Cigarettes?

Over these past few years, lawyers have been ferociously hammering down on big tobacco companies, forcing them to admit how addictive cigarettes are and pay the medical costs of victims. This settlement which was filed by Don Barrett cost the industry more than $200bn (£124bn)-and now his attention is turning to food.

We’ve all been there- choosing “75% less fat” butter, “sugar free” sodas and yoghurts with added “good bacteria”, but just how deceptive are these processed food packages? Mr. Barrett’s case towards Big Food companies proposes that their products are misleading when they promote them as “natural” or “healthy”.

“Chobani” yoghurts, for example, lists “evaporated cane sugars” in their ingredients – a clever disguise for its true identity: sugar. These hidden ingredients are undoubtedly vague and unclear, almost wholesome and healthy sounding. To a diabetic or someone looking to control their sugar levels, not truly knowing the types of food that you are eating could have more damaging effects. Likewise, “fat free” products are often pumped with sugar, meaning 12 tubs of “fat free” ice cream do not equal losing weight.

Although admittedly, they are not as harmful as the tobacco industry, the obesity epidemic expanding across America, is proof enough that something needs be changed, regarding our attitudes towards food. Statistics show that nearly two thirds of Americans over the age of 20 are now obese or overweight, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the figures are still growing – in more ways than one.

Unlike the tobacco industry case, these laws are not put forward to ban sugary sweets, greasy chips or fatty take-outs, more to give us the choice to make more healthy decisions and consequently, look towards a healthier future in terms of what we eat.

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