Obesity conference 2011 sponsored by Mars and CocaCola

The Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) held a conference this past weekend at a hotel in Clearwater, Florida, so Paul and I popped in to find out what SSIB is.  I mean, studying obesity would seem to be a pretty easy job:  bad food+not enough exercise=obesity.  What more is there to study?

This link between factors became obvious when we walked in to see a display for lab rats.  In order to make them obese, the rats/mice are put in very small plastic containers and fed a special pellet of sugary-looking pink or green substance designed to fatten them quickly.

We were flabbergasted to find that this conference was sponsored by Mars and CocaCola!!  Gee, two companies who market sweets are paying for scientists and researchers to come talk about obesity.  Indeed, these companies not only sponsored the conference, they paid for some of the scientists to attend.  Most likely in the hopes that the scientists won’t name junk food and soft drink as culprits in the epidemic of obesity.

I cornered one scientist and asked him about this.  He admitted that Mars had paid for his trip, but insisted that they didn’t influence or censor his work in any way.  In fact, he hoped that they would take his research on reward neurotransmitters in the brain and change their marketing strategies.  These companies want to avoid a warning label like the one on cigarettes.  Check out the list of corporate sponsors here:  http://www.ssib.org/web/index.php?page=sponsors. 

Another sponsor is Campbells, which is accused of using genetically modified food in its soups, so I hope someone is studying if there is a link between GM foods and obesity.

click here to visit the website for Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.  There are some pretty cute pictures of mice and hamsters.  But overall, I still can’t wrap my head around whether this field of study is legitimate, or a ruse for food companies to say there is “disagreement” about the role of diet in obesity.


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