You wouldn’t think this could possibly be true but revelations about the London governments plans to hand health policy over to the private sector beggar belief. In a major setback for health, nutrition and well-being (an area where we already have an appalling record) the UK is looking to such luminaries in the health food industry as McDonald’s, KFC and Pepsi for assistance in writing government policy on obesity and other health problems. We have summarised some of the coverage of the travesty.

Seamus Milne here writes: “The onward march of corporate power is a long established fact of British life. We’ve become familiar with the relentless privatisation of public assets and services, the creeping colonisation of Whitehall, and the revolving doors that see politicians, lobbyists, executives and civil servants swap places and exchange contracts with bewildering speed.

But the Guardian’s revelation that fast food and drinks companies such as McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Unilever and Diageo have now been asked by ministers to draw up public health policy shows the corporate takeover of politics has reached a new level. This isn’t an issue of government consulting business. We’re talking about the same vested interests that have fuelled the obesity and alcohol abuse crises as good as dictating terms at the heart of government.”

Read the full article by Seamus Milne here.

Today Joe Millward (Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Surrey) puts the policy in historical context and argues that:

“By the end of the Labour government, in full co-operation with the food industry, a sensible policy and programme had emerged. These initiatives appear to be working, given recent evidence that prevalence of obesity is falling in girls and no longer increasing in boys. The lesson is that if the science is put as the main driver of policy, with the food industry encouraged to participate in initiatives, then everyone benefits. Lansley’s plan to put the food industry in the driving seat will throw away a century of slow and tortuous progress.”

Read the full article here. It’s clear that the Tory-Liberal government is now flying in the face of all the scientific and public health evidence on what needs to be done, as set out by the chief scientist in 2007. It is a major setback for the health of the nation.