May 2nd, 2012

Is the ‘obesity lobby’ winning?

By Tom Laskawy

The War on Obesity sure was fun while it lasted. There was school lunch reform, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, the administration’s Task Force on Obesity report, and an attempt by the administration to restrict junk food advertising to kids. But, as Reuters details in this fantastic deep-dive, the food industry came back with shock and awe, K-Street style:

Reuters analyzed spending reported by more than 50 food and beverage groups that lobbied against the federal effort last year to write tougher — but still voluntary — nutritional standards for foods marketed to children.

The groups have spent more than $175 million lobbying since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 — more than double the $83 million spent in the previous three years, during the Bush Administration.

The totals do not include broader lobbying efforts by the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and media and advertising interests that also opposed the federal plan.

These companies’ political spending has remained high despite the fact that the immediate threat has passed. Reuters cites the example of PepsiCo, which spent $40 million in 2009 to head off a federal soda tax, a figure that “was more than eight times the $4.8 million they spent the previous year.”

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