Four former members of the expert working group recruited by the Centre for Social Justice report on childhood obesity write that the involvement of Danone and Asda in the project must bring into question its findingsThis Thursday sees the publication of the Centre for Social Justice report on childhood obesity. We write as former members of the expert working group that the CSJ recruited for this project. The CSJ was financed by Asda and Danone for this project, though the expert group were not told this from the start, despite the obvious conflict of interest. Danone is the largest supplier of infant formula in the UK and sells infant milks globally in 130 markets. It is a global food company and a major marketer of breast-milk substitutes. It is frequently accused of violating the WHO code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes and subsequent WHA resolutions. Asda, as a subsidiary of Walmart, is the largest retailer of high-fat, sugar and salt products in the world, with revenues of $482bn. The CSJ stated that neither would have undue editorial influence. At the final working group meeting, the draft report contained clear and robust recommendations to curtail the worst excesses in junk food marketing, including essential steps to stop the advertising of these foods to our children during early evening television, and the use of kids’ characters to sell unhealthy food. These were subsequently removed.
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