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Interview With Food Police On Kraft Foods New Initiative
Aired July 1, 2003 - 20:51 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm hungry. Kraft foods today announced it's waging a war on obesity by changing the way it packages and promoting some of its products. Kraft also says it's going to trim portion sizes and provide more specific information on nutritional content. What is Kraft up now joining me now to discuss this is Marian Nestle Chair of Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. She also happens to be the author of "Food Politics", how the food industry influences nutrition and health. Welcome
MARIAN NESTLE, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF NUTRITION AND FOOD STUDIES, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Nice to be here.
ZAHN: Do you give Kraft any credit for attempting this?
NESTLE: I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. So far it's all talk and we haven't had any auction. Let's see what they do. They have a real credibility problem to overcome because this is a company owned by Philip Morris which has a long history of manipulating the public at the expense of public health. We need to see what the action is going to be before deciding.
ZAHN: In all fairness to Kraft they're just launching this program so it's hard to show any results.
NESTLE: Right. Oh, no, no, they don't have results but we have to see what they actually do. They've made promises. Now the question is are they going to keep them. If they do keep the promise, I think it's a step forward.
ZAHN: Whose fault is it that we have the obesity rate in this country? Where does personal responsibility come into the equation?
NESTLE: Obviously, personal responsibility is important. People vote with their forks. They don't do that in the absence of a complete environment in which everything that goes on encourages people to eat more food than eating less.
We have so much food in this country that there's a huge over abundance and food companies do everything they can to try to get people to buy their products instead of somebody else's, or to eat more in general because that's how you sell more food. And this comes not just through advertising but also through larger portions and convenience and very cheap ingredients in products. Larger portions alone is a big issue.
ZAHN: So what is it you think should be the responsibility of the food industry? Listen, you know, people can -- they're consumers. Consumers can make the choice at the grocery store. No ones is saying you've got to buy this.
NESTLE: Well the real problem is, of course, that the food industry's job is to make money for stockholders, the question is where is the social responsibility come in. I think it's possible to argue that adult's have personal responsibility but the real issue is marketing to children. That's where if it doesn't cross a legal line it crosses an ethical line.
ZAHN: Didn't Kraft announce that it in fact, wants to cut that kind of advertising to children as part of this plan?
NESTLE: Only in schools. Only in schools. But even that would be a step forward. And so I think all of these, the ideas that they have are really good ideas. The question is how are they going to be implemented and when are they going to be implemented.
ZAHN: What is the first thing someone at home could do to make a concerted effort to try to change the picture here? What adds to healthcare costs is just staggering.
NESTLE: Staggering, staggering. The first thing to do is to eat less and be more active. I mean, the issues of obesity are very simple, it's a matter of calories in and calories out. If you want to lose weight you have to eat less and you have to figure out how to do that and everybody has to do that on their own and their own personal responsibility.
ZAHN: So, see, that's where I'm still having trouble with what you expect the food people -- I know, Kraft announced that snack packs they will put fewer cookies.
NESTLE: So 6 Oreo cookies 300 calories. Four Oreos cookies are 200 calories. People eat what's put in front of them and they eat more if larger portions are put in front of them. So if Kraft cuts down the number of cookies in the packages, people are likely to eat less of them.
Nobody is saying that people shouldn't eat these things at all, just that eating less is important and whatever can be done to make it easier for people to eat more healthfully, not to eat so often, not to eat so much, not to eat on the run, not to make convenience determine everything.
It seems to me it's a step forward and if people recognize that it will be much easier for them to make choices.
ZAHN: Once again, to put into the equation to be fair once again, exercise has to enter the picture as well.
ZAHN: Whose fault is it that people are not exercising? We've seen P.E. programs around the country having to be cut with he enormous fiscal countries that a lot of communities have across the country. A lot comes into play.
NESTLE: Well this all comes into play and it all comes into play and with government policy. I think government plays an enormous role in this. When government takes money away from schools, schools have to look for sources of funding outside.
If government takes money away from activies then people -- or sidewalks or public transportation -- then people are going to be driving cars.
If the government supports oil the way it does, then people are going to be driving cars and not taking public transportation which is much more exercise intensive.
ZAHN: Now an honest answer from a member of the food police, can you look at this stuff and eat it without feeling guilty?
NESTLE: I just eat it in small quantities.
ZAHN: Oh you're so good and so disciplined. Thank you so much for dropping by, Marian Nestle.
NESTLE: My pleasure.
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