business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post has an extensive story about a new study suggesting that tobacco companies that "hooked people on cigarettes by making their products more addictive" used those same strategies to get people hooked on processed foods.

An excerpt:

"In the 1980s, tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds acquired the major food companies Kraft, General Foods and Nabisco, allowing tobacco firms to dominate America’s food supply and reap billions in sales from popular brands such as Oreo cookies, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Lunchables.

By the 2000s, the tobacco giants spun off their food companies and largely exited the food industry — but not before leaving a lasting legacy on the foods that we eat.

"The new research, published in the journal Addiction, focuses on the rise of 'hyper-palatable' foods, which contain potent combinations of fat, sodium, sugar and other additives that can drive people to crave and overeat them. The Addiction study found that in the decades when the tobacco giants owned the world’s leading food companies, the foods that they sold were far more likely to be hyper-palatable than similar foods not owned by tobacco companies.

"In the past 30 years, hyper-palatable foods have spread rapidly into the food supply, coinciding with a surge in obesity and diet-related diseases. In America, the steepest increase in the prevalence of hyper-palatable foods occurred between 1988 and 2001 — the era when Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds owned the world’s leading food companies."

You can read the entire story here.

KC's View:


The position here always has been that there is an especially hot circle of hell reserved for tobacco company executives who were complicit in developing deliberately addictive tobacco products that killed so many people.  (Including my mom, who died of lung cancer in 1998 at age 67.)

This story makes me think that the circle may have to be made bigger and hotter, so it can include the folks who engineered what are called "hyper-palatable" products that also addicted people and helped create health problems.

Not sure if there will be lawsuits emerging from this study's conclusions.  But I know this - to paraphrase from Dante's "Inferno," there should be no joy in wretchedness.