CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER

Diabetes Association Defends Cadbury Schweppes Deal

19 Corporate Crime Reporter 20(9), May 16, 2005


The American public health community is taking big dollars from big corporations.


Is the community pulling its punches in return for the cash?


That’s the allegation from public interest groups like Commercial Alert.


Earlier this month, the group’s executive director, Gary Ruskin, accused the American Diabetes Association (ADA) of taking corrupt payments from Cadbury Schweppes, after the candy and soda maker entered into a multimillion dollar deal with the ADA.


“Maybe the American Diabetes Association should rename itself the American Junk Food Association,” Ruskin said. “What will it do for an encore? Start selling candy bars for M&M/Mars? If Cadbury Schweppes really wanted to reduce the incidence of obesity and diabetes, it would stop advertising its high-sugar products, and remove them from our nation’s schools. This is just another attempt by a major junk food corporation to obfuscate its responsibility in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the United States. The American Diabetes Association should return this corrupt contribution to Cadbury Schweppes immediately.”


Well, why exactly is the ADA taking money from big corporate donors, including junk food pushers?


To find out, we call on the ADA’s Richard Kahn.


We interviewed Kahn on May 9, 2005.



CCR: What is your current professional position?


KAHN: I’m the chief scientific and medical officer with the American Diabetes Association.


CCR: How long have you been in that position?


KAHN: Nearly 20 years.


CCR: What is your work there?


KAHN: I have general responsibility for our scientific and medical affairs, which includes a large research program, a professional education effort, some certification programs, some of our publications, and our community programs.


CCR: What is the budget of the ADA?


KAHN: It’s about $215 million.


CCR: What percentage of that comes from corporations?


KAHN: It is about seven percent – around $15 million.


CCR: The ADA takes money from food corporations?


KAHN: Yes.


CCR: Do you have guidelines as to which corporations you will take money from and which you will not take money from?


KAHN: Yes.

First of all, we are taking money to support educational programs – that’s the only thing we take the money for.

These range from professional education programs, to community education about the risk of diabetes, to consumer programs and services.


We will receive an educational grant, and the question then becomes – what will we do for the company?

And the thing we do most often for the company, which is 85 to 90 percent of the time is to simply acknowledge in a letter that they gave us a gift and nothing more.


On some occasions, we will print their name associated with a particular activity, sponsored by an educational grant.


So, we do have guidelines as to how we recognize corporations.


And we have guidelines as to what kind of consumer companies we take money from and how they can indicate they have actually supported the American Diabetes Association.


CCR: Do you allow the companies to put the ADA label on their product?


KAHN: For some companies, we will allow them to indicate that they are a proud sponsor of the American Diabetes Association.


They can say – we sponsor the American Diabetes Association.


To get there, they have to fulfill some criteria.


We will not let them say that they sponsor the American Diabetes Association if it is on any product that is exclusively sold to people with diabetes.


If it is a food company, it would be only on a product that meets our food guidelines, which are that the product has to be low in saturated fat and reduced in calories.


CCR: How much money did Cadbury Schweppes give to the American Diabetes Association?


KAHN: They gave us a little over a million over a three year period.


CCR: You announced it as a multi-million dollar alliance.


KAHN: It might go close to two – we probably rounded it off.


CCR: Does the ADA label now go on Cadbury Schweppes products?


KAHN: That’s not my area, but I believe that if it is allowed on any product, it would have to be diet soda.

And I’m pretty certain it’s on their diet cola.

It would have to be a diet soda, because no one can put our name on anything not reduced in calories.


The only thing that they make that is reduced in calories is their diet soda.


CCR: Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert, which is a public interest group in Portland, Oregon, put a press release titled “American Diabetes Association Sells Out to Cadbury Schweppes.”

In it, Ruskin said this:

“Maybe the American Diabetes Association should rename itself the American Junk Food Association. What will it do for an encore? Start selling candy bars for M&M/Mars? If Cadbury Schweppes really wanted to reduce the incidence of obesity and diabetes, it would stop advertising its high-sugar products, and remove them from our nation’s schools. This is just another attempt by a major junk food corporation to obfuscate its responsibility in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the United States. The American Diabetes Association should return this corrupt contribution to Cadbury Schweppes immediately.”


Are you concerned that these companies that give big money to the ADA are using this money to cover their complicity in the epidemic of diabetes in the United States?


KAHN: Not at all. Most of the companies that give us educational grants are not in the food industry.


CCR: But you do take money even from candy companies.


KAHN: No, I don’t think we do take money from candy companies.


CCR: Well, Cadbury Schweppes is a candy company.


KAHN: These people give us money for our educational programs. And in return, they can indicate that we sponsor them only on products that are better to eat.

Let’s emphasize that – only on products that are better to eat.

This is not a question of selling M&M candy bars.


We are not helping them promote high sugared products. In fact, we are trying to move the country toward eating better foods.


CCR: But it’s not just the ADA logo on “good” products. Cadbury puts out a press release boasting about its alliance with the ADA.


KAHN: And the alliance focuses on their diet products. It says so explicitly in the press release.


CCR: Why not just say that you are not going to take money from companies that are causing these problems?


KAHN: If we want to prevent diabetes, reduce the prevalence of obesity, help find the cure to diabetes, we have to get funds from someplace.


They are not influencing our programs.

We are not out promoting any of these products.

We are doing good things with our money.

We are funding over $45 million worth of research.

We are doing all kinds of good things.

That is not helping those companies move those products you are talking about in any direction positively.


The only thing we are doing is trying to get the public to eat healthier foods. I would call that a good thing.


CCR: Would you take money from the sugar industry?


KAHN: No.


CCR: If there were no strings attached?


KAHN: If there were absolutely no strings attached and they couldn’t announce that they were doing it, and they are not putting our name and logo on something, you would have to say yes. I’m giving you all of the qualifications.


CCR: What about if they were allowed to put out a press release saying – we’re giving $2 million to the American Diabetes Association, but they can’t use the logo?


KAHN: Let’s not take hypotheticals. You could say – would you take $2 million from the gun lobby?


CCR: But guns don’t have anything to do with diabetes. Sugar does have something to do with diabetes.


KAHN: What?

What is the evidence that sugar itself has anything to do with diabetes? There is no evidence.


CCR: There is no evidence that sugar has anything to do with diabetes?


KAHN: None. There is not a shred of evidence that sugar per se has anything to do with getting diabetes.


CCR: Well, weight has something to do with it.


KAHN: Yes, weight has something to do with it.


CCR: Does sugar have something to do with weight?


KAHN: No. Calories has something to do with diabetes.


CCR: Given that sugar has a lot of calories –


KAHN: Anything with calories.


CCR: Sugar has nothing to do with diabetes.

Okay, let’s define our terms.

What is diabetes?


KAHN: Diabetes is an abnormally high blood glucose level.


CCR: Is there an epidemic of diabetes?


KAHN: There are different kinds of diabetes.


Three or four percent of the women get gestational diabetes when they are pregnant.


There is type 1 diabetes that often strikes kids and has nothing to do with weight.


CCR: What about the diabetes that has to do with weight?


KAHN: A large part of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. And this has a lot to do with being overweight. Being overweight is a result of eating too many calories in relation to what is being expended. That is the sole reason.


CCR: Is there an epidemic of that type of diabetes?


KAHN: Absolutely.


CCR: And what is causing it?


KAHN: People in this country are gaining too much weight.


CCR: Why are people gaining too much weight?


KAHN: Because total caloric intake exceeds total caloric expenditure.


CCR: Does sugar have anything to do with that?


KAHN: If you are eating only sugar, yes.


CCR: No, does sugar have anything to do with that kind of weight related diabetes?


KAHN: No more than fat or protein does.


CCR: Do sugary drinks have something to do with it?


KAHN: No one has a clue of whether they do or don’t.


CCR: Why hasn’t anybody looked at it?


KAHN: In order to show that there is one particular cause of calories that is worse or better than that another source of calories, you have to have people eating that source of calories only for long periods of time. Those experiments have never been done.


So, people come in and eat what they call a mixed meal. That consists of protein, fat and carbohydrates. You can vary the proportions of protein, fat and carbohydrates. And you can even study them for a week or two.


Let say you just feed everyone 100 percent protein, or 100 percent sugar, and see what happens over two or three weeks. The answer is going to be the same.

If the total caloric intake is equal to the total caloric expenditure, they are not going to gain weight if they eat 100 percent protein, 100 percent fat, or 100 percent carbohydrate.


Weight is a pure function of calories in, calories out.


CCR: The Center for Science in the Public Interest put out a study a couple of years ago on soda drinks and health. And they reported that in 1942, when production of carbonated soft drinks was about 60 12-ounce servings per person, the American Medical Association's Council on Foods and Nutrition stated:


“From the health point of view it is desirable especially to have restriction of such use of sugar as is represented by consumption of sweetened carbonated beverages and forms of candy which are of low nutritional value. The Council believes it would be in the interest of the public health for all practical means to be taken to limit consumption of sugar in any form in which it fails to be combined with significant proportions of other foods of high nutritive quality.”


Do you agree with that statement?


KAHN: Absolutely.

But keep in mind, in 1942, there was relatively little obesity in America. For thirty years after that statement, there was very little obesity in America. Most of the sugar worries at that time were over dental problems.


Now, as time has passed, we have learned that yes, people are consuming more sugar, but in 1942, there wasn’t the buffet for lunch in every restaurant. At that time, there wasn’t a huge amount of high fat foods. In 1942, there were no fast food restaurants.


CCR: Have you seen the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s report – Liquid Candy?

KAHN: No.


CCR: They report that in 1997 Americans spent $54 billion to buy 14 billion gallons of soft drinks.


And in the report, Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the Center, shows how the annual soft drink production in the United States went from 100 12-ounce cans per person per year in 1947 to 600 in 1997.


You don’t think that anything to do necessarily with obesity and diabetes?


KAHN: I don’t know whether it does or doesn’t. What he doesn’t show in that report is what percent of the foods we consume are high in saturated fat. He also doesn’t show what percent of the foods come from foods eaten out of the house – which have increased enormously over the past ten to fifteen years.


I’m not going to dispute the data at this point. I’m assuming he’s correct.


But there is a tremendous increase in other areas.

For example, portion sizes altogether have grown enormously.

Food is cheaper over the last few years.


If he would look and chart the cost to obtain a calorie of food – it has dropped enormously in the last 20 years.

More families are not sitting down to eat together.


There are lot of things going on.

Unfortunately, we can’t detect which ones are causal. It’s not going to be just one thing.


What proportion of each has led to our problem?


Remember weight is only a function of calories in and calories out.


All of these fad diets are nonsense.


What Jacobson has not charted on the other side of the equation is calories out – the fact that there is reduced physical education in schools, the fact that people aren’t walking anymore, the fact that people are driving here and there, there are fewer and fewer outdoor activities.

CCR: Jacobson lists a number of recommendations in his Liquid Candy report.


He says that state and local governments should consider taxing soft drinks – Arkansas, West Virginia, Tennessee and Washington already do – as a public health measure.


KAHN: Companies in America that make products, whether they be automobiles or soft drinks are making them because people are buying them.


If people didn’t want to buy them, they wouldn’t make them.


And the fastest growing items in the food industry are in fact the diet drinks.


The fastest growing new product introduction in America is the Hardee’s juicy thickburger with 1200 or 1300 calories and 100 grams of fat. They can’t make them fast enough. That’s what people want.


CCR: Jacobson is proposing that state and local governments consider taxing soft drinks. Do you agree?


KAHN: To consider it? Absolutely.


CCR: Should they tax soda drinks?


KAHN: I don’t know if they should actually tax soda drinks. We’re not an organization that is going to tell state and federal government that they should tax foods.


CCR: You support Senator Edward Kennedy’s bill to restrict junk food in schools. So, why wouldn’t you support taxing soft drinks?


KAHN: I would support the states considering it.


CCR: The Liquid Candy report says that these revenues could be used to fund campaigns to improve diets, build exercise facilities – bike paths, swimming pools, and support physical education in foods.


KAHN: I personally would be more in favor of looking at all foods. I just think that it is hard to distinguish one single good food from one single bad food.


Let’s get back to the double thick four slices of bacon cheeseburger that weighs two-thirds of a pound that has 1,400 calories. That is almost the amount of calories for an entire day.


You put that up against a single soda. Now you tell me – which is worst?


Since I know it’s calories.

And I know from clear cut studies that saturated fat is not good.

So, what food should we be taxing?


CCR: Are you saying that states should be taxing the thickburger?


KAHN: I’m saying, before anyone starts taxing anything, we ought to look at the entire food supply and ask – can we distinguish good foods from bad foods?

And if we can distinguish, what is the appropriate levy, and what would we do with the money?


We presumably got a lot of money from the tobacco industry, but much of it didn’t go to what it was supposed to for. It just went into state coffers. It didn’t necessarily go to the education campaigns and programs that it was supposed to go for.


CCR: What percentage of the ADA’s $215 million budget do you spend on prevention programs?


KAHN: We don’t fully categorize everything, but my guess is at least 30 or 40 percent. Those programs are encouraging people to maintain healthy weight, reduce weight, and get more physical exercise.


CCR: What percentage of your prevention program deals with diet?


KAHN: We don’t break it down that way. The messages are all the same.


CCR: Is one of the messages -- don’t drink sugary drinks?


KAHN: No. That’s not one of the messages. Why would we isolate sugary drinks when we have double bacon cheeseburgers?


CCR: Do you say – don’t eat double bacon cheeseburgers?


KAHN: We say – reduce your total caloric intake. It doesn’t matter if you ate the double bacon cheeseburger but ate nothing else. Or if conversely if you went out once a month and ate the double bacon cheeseburger, that doesn’t matter, if you come home and gorge yourself every night with what food you eat.


The key point is that it is total calories. To isolate one food is a huge mistake.


CCR: Childhood diabetes is at epidemic levels, right?


KAHN: It is growing. I don’t know whether I would say it is at epidemic levels.


CCR: It’s a serious problem, right?


KAHN: Yes.


CCR: Wouldn’t you be interested to find out what is causing the increased weight gain in young children?


KAHN: Absolutely.


CCR: Wouldn’t you be interested in finding out whether increased soda intake is part of the problem or not?


KAHN: Sure.


CCR: Why don’t you do the research?


KAHN: Because people don’t want to study it. We don’t study. We provide grants to scientists to study.


CCR: Have you given any grants to study the soda problem?


KAHN: No one has applied. In the research community nobody that I know of has applied for a grant to study if regular sodas by themselves cause weight gain. We have funded a lot of nutrition work, we have funded a lot of behavior work – how to change people’s behaviors. That really is what it is all about.


These studies are very difficult to conduct. Extremely difficult to conduct.


CCR: Just from a common sense point of view, we know that kids drink a ton of sugary sodas. You say you have never seen the report Liquid Candy. That indicates that you don’t want to look at it.


KAHN: Why is that an indicator?


CCR: Well, it is a famous study.


KAHN: How many people have seen it? Why is it famous?


CCR: When they released the report, it made news, it was on CNN. Jacobson gets a ton of press. So, at least in your field –


KAHN: My field is diabetes.


CCR: I understand. Jacobson puts out a report on liquid candy, which is directly related to childhood weight gain, and you haven’t heard of it.


KAHN: I know what’s going on in the sugar drinks world. But I don’t think this is telling at all. I don’t know what you are saying.


CCR: Well, there are public interest groups out there saying that because you are taking money from these companies –


KAHN: How many groups are there, how many are we talking about – one person, not groups, singular.


CCR: Jacobson does list the corporate contributions to the ADA on his website.


KAHN: Are you sure about that?


CCR: On his website, he has a section call Integrity in Science. He list American Diabetes Association and all of its corporate contributors.


KAHN: And we are proud of all of these people because they help fund our programs. We can’t help people, we can’t send out messages to lose weight, to exercise more – we can’t send these messages out unless we have some funds to do it. And the overwhelming majority of those contributors are not food companies.


CCR: Let’s go over this again. If the sugar industry came to you and said – here is two million dollars, no strings attached, you would take that money?


KAHN: Not the pure sugar industry. If they are selling bags of sugar, that doesn’t satisfy our food guidelines.


CCR: They are not going to put the ADA label on anything.


KAHN: They are going to promote the fact that they gave us money.


In the Cadbury case, we have only allowed them to associate their name and ours with diet colas. We think it will be much easier to move the country away from other foods into foods with reduced calories than it will be to just simply to ban the stuff people want and won’t give up. They want it with a passion.


CCR: We are not talking about banning. We are talking about public health programs that will help reduce diabetes. The only legislation that you have supported so far is the Kennedy legislation?


KAHN: No, we have supported a lot of state legislation to increase physical activity in schools, to decrease the sale out of vending machines.

We have supported bills to increase bike paths. We have actively supported, along with the Center for Science, to the advent of the food label. We were proactive in getting food labels on packaged goods. We are very active in tackling the problem of foods eaten away from home.


We recently sat down with the Center and the food industry and asked – how can we all work together to reduce the amount of calories eaten in foods away from home?


So, we have actually have had a great collaborative relationship with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.


CCR: Let’s focus on the tax issue. Why wouldn’t the ADA support a tax on soft drinks?


KAHN: I didn’t say we wouldn’t support a tax on soft drinks. I said that states should consider taxing any food that they believe contributes to an excessive amount of caloric intake to raise money for public awareness into eating healthy.


It’s about calories. If they say let’s tax donuts, and pastries and ice cream – and they can do that and have their constituency want to pay an increased tax for most of the food that they eat, I think it’s great, if their constituency will go along with it. I would support it.


CCR: So, you are supporting a tax on junk food?


KAHN: We would support a tax on foods that would contribute high calories. That’s a lot of foods. I think we would support that, but I do think that the population of America would be very angry with us.


CCR: Are you saying that unless we can tax all high calorie foods, we should tax no high calorie foods?


KAHN: You are singling out as being –


CCR: According to the Liquid Candy report, there are a handful of states that already tax soda.

KAHN: I don’t know that they do it or not. If they do, I would wonder – should I single out soda, or should I single out the donuts?

If I single out the donuts, shouldn’t I single out the pies, and cakes and pastries?


CCR: Would you single them out?


KAHN: No.


CCR: So, it’s all or nothing for you?


KAHN: The epidemic is the result of too many calories in, fewer calories out. That is it.


CCR: But if in fact kids are getting a disproportionate number of soft drinks –

KAHN: And are getting a disproportionate number of calories from candy.

Why not support a tax on candy?


CCR: But soda is a big part of the problem. Why not address it first?


KAHN: Because I think we should address all of the problem.


CCR: I’m talking from a tax point of view.


KAHN: Okay, let’s focus on the tax.


CCR: You are setting up a situation where you are not going to be able to tax anything, because you want to tax all high caloric foods. That’s going to be impossible. How are you going to do it?


KAHN: Take all foods that are intentionally sweetened and say – maybe we should tax all of them.


CCR: Okay, so you are proposing that we tax all intentionally sweetened foods.


KAHN: I would maybe as an individual. But I’m not going to speak for my organization.


CCR: But you are speaking for your organization.


KAHN: Then I don’t know if we would or not. We might, we might not. It is unfair –


CCR: You know that ADA supports Senator Kennedy’s bill.

But there are states that are taxing soda, and you say you don’t know whether you would support a tax on soda.


KAHN: It’s hard for me as an individual on a question from you that I’ve heard for the first time to speak for my entire organization. It’s hard for me to speak for what the ADA would do.


CCR: But you are speaking for the ADA.


KAHN: I’m speaking for my association on things I know. I can’t speak for my association on what we would be advocating federal or state legislatures to do at this moment in time.


CCR: But you know for a fact that you are supporting Senator Kennedy’s bill?


KAHN: I do.


CCR: But you don’t know whether you would support a tax on soda?


KAHN: Right.


CCR: You must have considered this.


KAHN: Why must we have?


CCR: It’s a major issue.


KAHN: You have just read from Michael Jacobson’s report. You have identified a handful of states that seem to have done this. You are saying it is a major issue of taxation.


CCR: I’m saying that liquid candy is a major issue.


KAHN: I don’t know if it is a major issue. What’s turning out to be a major issue is excess caloric consumption. That’s the major issue. That has to be much more of a major issue than sugared drinks. Look at all of the weight loss companies.


CCR: Let’s focus on children. If in fact a big chunk of their calories come from sugared drinks –


KAHN: I don’t know whether in fact that is the case. Do you know it is a fact?


CCR: I don’t know, but if in fact.


KAHN: I don’t want to go down that line if I don’t know that it is true.


CCR: Why wouldn’t you want to know?


KAHN: I would want to know.


CCR: Then how come you haven’t found out?


KAHN: Because no one has sent us an application to study this.


CCR: Why doesn’t the ADA taken the initiative to find out?


KAHN: The only initiative we could take is to fund research to do it. If someone would come to us with a grant do it, we might well fund them. We have a research program. We say we will take any and all applications.

We are particularly interested in applications that deal with nutrition and behavior change. If the scientists of America don’t want to apply, then they don’t want to apply. You should raise the issue with them, not us. We are willing to support that kind of research. No one will apply.


CCR: What is your sense, from your observation of children that you know, what is your sense as to whether soda drink consumption is a problem or not?


KAHN: The kids I know mostly drink diet soda. What I sense is that kids are not getting anywhere near the physical activity they used to get or should get. They are spending too much time on the computers. And they are not spending enough time outside on parks. And they are not getting physical activity.


And the second thing I know is that food portion sizes are enormous – much bigger than they ever were. People are eating more food outside the home than ever before.


CCR:
Where would you rank soft drink consumption in terms of the problem for children?


KAHN: I know it’s part of the mix. But I can’t say it’s one, two, six or ten. I know it is part of the mix, but we don’t know what part of the mix it is.

And in order to find that out, people have to do the research. And people don’t want to because it takes time. It’s very difficult to do those studies. And they can’t do it.


You and others can sit and rant and rave and say – its’ the pizza industry, or it’s the buffets that we go to. And I suspect that you and I and all of the people you and I know go to these buffets too.

But we didn’t have buffets 30 years ago.


CCR: Would you agree with Jacobson when he suggests that soft drink companies voluntarily should not advertise to children and adolescents?


KAHN: I don’t know what my organization would say about that.


CCR: How do you feel about it?


KAHN: You first say that I’m speaking for my organization.

Now you are asking about how I feel personally. So, where are we on this?


CCR: You don’t know whether the ADA would support this proposal?


KAHN: We don’t know what kind of effect it would have. Is it really going to make any difference? I’m not sure that when people come into restaurants or fast food places, that it is clearly as a result of advertisements on Saturday morning or whenever kids watch television.

I don’t know to what extent those ads are leading to the overconsumption of foods. If they do, I would support it. If it is nothing, then why put your energy there?


CCR: What works?


KAHN: If we knew what works, if we had any idea of what remotely works – we would do it.


We have people who are overweight who go into studies in which they are given reduced calorie foods and at the same time they are encouraged to exercise, they are given free coaching, and free exercise equipment, and free membership to exercise, and free diet foods, diet shakes. All of this for free. In addition to that they take a drug that helps lower weight. And they wind up losing eight pounds. And they are morbidly obese.


And then you know what happens? After six months or a year of this kind of activity and the study ends, they gain all the weight back. So, we have ourselves a real problem.


CCR: What is the responsibility of the food industry for the epidemic of diabetes in this country?


KAHN: I don’t know that answer to that question. The food industry supplies Americans the food they want to eat. I just learned the other day that when restaurants label foods “heart healthy,” “reduced saturated fat,” this is good for you, people don’t buy them.
If they take off the label on the same dish, people will buy it. Just label the food “healthy,” people won’t buy it.


This is America. And we have a real problem. And it is wrongheaded to say – we’re just going to go after this one thing as if we know that is the answer. That alone can’t be just the answer. We don’t know even know what proportion it is.


Before we start some massive campaign that either costs Americans more money or eliminates what they get to eat – and keep in mind, 60 percent of the country is overweight – take away their food and they are not going to be happy campers.


CCR: You say – we don’t know what works and what doesn’t work and until we know, we can’t move –


KAHN: I didn’t say until we know we can’t move. What we can do is try and lead people toward greater physical activity, reduced overall general caloric intake.

We know without a shadow of a doubt that it is total calories ingested relative to total calories expended.


CCR: The ADA hasn’t taken a position on taxing soda. But you have taken a position on Kennedy’s legislation. So, you believe that Kennedy’s legislation is going to accomplish something, otherwise, why would you support it?


KAHN: Correct. And we have supported legislation that hasn’t gone anywhere, as I said, for more money for bike paths, for money for public education, public awareness about the obesity problem, more money for research on obesity. Maybe if the pie were increased dramatically, there would be more people willing to do the studies you are asking about. We have supported that enormously.


CCR: Why not restrict access to junk food?


KAHN: Restriction as a concept in any part of our society rarely works and the loopholes are found and utilized.


CCR: Then why are you supporting the Kennedy bill?


KAHN: Because there is little to be lost and potentially some to be gained by limiting the foods sold in vending machines. But the Kennedy legislation is more comprehensive than that.

It speaks to more money for public awareness. It is not just the vending machine issue. If we put our energies just in the vending machine issue, we will be missing the boat. We have to have a comprehensive attack on total caloric consumption.


And that caloric consumption is not just sugared drinks. It is desserts. It’s candies. It’s donuts. It’s people consuming three-quarters of a pound of meat at one sitting. It’s hamburgers with four pieces of bacon and three pieces of cheese. It’s coming home and serving a family of two or four two pounds of pasta. It’s no different.


CCR: So, you are saying it’s the consumer’s problem, not the industry’s problem.


KAHN: Well, lots of times we have said – why don’t we tax the people who are overweight. Rather than taxing the food, tax the people who are overweight.


CCR: Are you saying we should tax fat people?


KAHN: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying, where we apply the tax, if there should be a tax, needs careful study. It would be silly to tax something, whatever it is, and find that we have accomplished nothing.


CCR: But you have just raised the idea of taxing fat people.


KAHN: I mentioned it only because other people have raised it.


CCR: So, you are saying that’s another idea that is out there.

KAHN: And there are twenty more. And before we do anything, we need to carefully consider – will this have an effect? I’m not trying to quash anything. I’m just saying – why start doing something that in some way is going to penalize the industry, or penalize the people, when in fact we accomplish nothing?


CCR: You are pushing diet drinks. Some people say that some artificial sweeteners are unsafe.

What’s your take?


KAHN: I don’t think that there is any artificial sweetener on the market that has been shown to be unsafe.


CCR: Have you seen the movie Supersize Me – about the junk food industry?


KAHN: Yes. It was well-done and entertaining.


CCR: Is the ADA promoting it?


KAHN: The ADA doesn't promote movies.


[Contact: Richard Kahn, American Diabetes Association, 1701 North Beauregard, Alexandria, Virginia 22311. E-mail: rkahn@diabetes.org]

 


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