top of page

The Food Industry of Today Mirrors the Tobacco Industry of Yesterday

Fifty years ago, a serious health issue facing Americans was the ill effects of smoking. Smoking causes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, lung disease, lung cancer, damages organs and blood vessels in the body. In the 1950’s, cigarette smoking was the social icon symbol of cool and glamor. American tobacco firm Philip Morris knew exactly how to market their poison to appeal to the largest audience. Their commercials had every man (and woman’s) dream Marlboro Man declaring, "For man's flavor come to Marlboro Country."

For years, the tobacco industry appeared to be invincible, that is until people began dying left and right from lung cancer. That’s when the lawsuits started filling the courtrooms. Then, in 1994, Diane Castano, whose husband died of lung cancer, sued the tobacco industry in potentially the largest class action suit in history.

Cigarette smoking causes premature death. The average life expectancy for smokers is at least ten years shorter than for nonsmokers. The good news is smoking is no longer a “cool” thing, but an “annoyance” to most people. And, according to the CDC, as of 2016, nearly 18 of every 100 adult men (17.5%) still smoke and nearly 14 of every 100 adult women (13.5%). That’s down from 20.9% a decade earlier. Of U.S. smokers in 2005, 80.8% (or 36.5 million) smoked every day, and 19.2% (or 8.7 million) smoked some days. I’m glad to see those numbers continue to fall.

The New Poison - Our Food Supply

Today’s tobacco problem is a distant memory. Now the serious health issue affecting American adults and children is obesity.

Fifty-percent (50%) of American children’s caloric intake is from added fat and sugar. Pediatricians report seeing an increase of children who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and “adult” onset diabetes, known as Type 2 Diabetes, all the result of poor nutrition, and excessive caloric intake.

We have a moral obligation as a conscious society to prevent heavily marketed “fake foods” loaded with processed sugar, flour, fat and excessive calories to children. I’m always amazed when I’m in the grocery store checkout line, and the checkout areas are still loaded with these fake foods with everything we now know.

These food giants are targeting our children with products such as sugary breakfast cereals, sodas, PopTarts, Fruit Roll-Ups, CheezeBalls, fruit juice (juice boxes), etc., filled with toxic chemicals, dyes, and zero nutrients. Other countries ban these products because of the severity of these ingredients, yet the United States doesn’t. I could go on and on and fill the next five pages with all the fake, unhealthy food products targeting our children. If another country were hurting our children the way the food industry does, we would go to war to protect them, rather than purchasing these products and feeding them to our children.

The food industry is big business and big money, and as long as we allow it, they will continue to make these products and aggressively market to our children. It’s a competitive market. In Marion Nestle’s book Food Politics, How The Food Industry Influences Nutrition And Health, she writes, “Marketers will do whatever they can to encourage even the youngest children to ask for advertised products in the hope of enticing young people to become lifetime consumers. In doing so, food companies have enormously increased the burden on caretakers to control television viewing, resist requests for food purchases and teach critical thinking to children whose analytical abilities are not yet developed. Most parents of my acquaintance tell me that they are constantly arguing with their children over food choices. Food marketers depend on caretakers to be too busy to want to deny requests for fast-food meals or snack foods, whether or not consuming such foods inappropriately raises caloric intake.”

This Obvious Health Issue Cannot Be Ignored

According to the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 18.5 percent of children and 39.6 percent of adults had obesity in 2015–2016. These are the highest rates ever documented by NHANES. Obesity increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, sleep apnea, liver disease, kidney disease, gallbladder disease, and certain types of cancers. Over 40 percent of Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes according to CDC. That’s more than 100 million American adults.

We are one of the wealthiest countries, yet we allow this business to unfold. It’s time to wake up to the fact that we need to educate ourselves and our children about their food choices and ourselves. The big food giants and our government are not taking responsibility for this serious health crisis. Moreover, if we continue to rely on them, we suffer the consequences.

GMO’s In Our Children’s Food Supply

GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is now a buzzword that many people now understand and thus companies are making an effort to go non-GMO because of the toxicity of ingesting foods genetically modified. They engineer most GMOs to withstand the direct application of herbicide and to produce an insecticide. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup. Farmers spray Roundup on their crops and when genetically modified, the plants can withstand large amounts of this toxic chemical. Many GMO crops are refined and turned into processed ingredients such as cornstarch, corn syrup, canola oil, sugar, molasses, soy lecithin, soy hemoglobin, citric acid, cellulose, maltodextrin, flavorings, vitamins, and anything that says “vegetable” but not specified. These are predominant in processed “fake foods” that we are feeding our children!

Slow and Steady Progress and Steps to Take to Keep It Going

We are seeing some progress, however. Thirty-five states have made Healthy Food Financing Initiative investments to increase healthy food access in underserved communities. Some major food and beverage companies removed 6.4 trillion calories from the marketplace between 2007 and 2012. And In 2018, menu labeling provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect, covering approximately 300,000 food retail establishments nationwide; FDA estimates this will save approximately $8 billion in health costs over the next two decades.

Another important step would be food and beverage companies eliminate children’s exposure to advertising and marketing of unhealthy products. This will eliminate a lot of frustration between children and parents.

The best way for you to support this movement is to buy local organic produce, sustainable meats and support food companies who are taking steps to improve the quality of our food supply. As an educated consumer, you can use your purchasing power to support the making of a better tomorrow.

I’m thankful that we are taking steps to protect the integrity of our food, but there’s still a lot more work to do. What steps can you take today to establish a healthy mindset, and educate yourself and your family on making better food decisions? You’ll be the example that others will want to follow. Change begins with you. If you need help in this area, I can help. Contact me today for a discovery session to find out how you can begin to live your life in health, not dis-ease.


Looking for a Wellness Educator at your place of business?

A typical workshop is one hour in length and is available for presentation at one or multiple times to allow for the varying schedules of your employees.

Available workshop topics:

  • Sugar Addiction, Understanding Our Relationship With Sugar

  • The Top Seven Foods That Play a Major Role in Chronic Disease

  • The Physical Impact of Stress And Negative Emotions

  • Food and Cancer - Nourish Every Cell To Stay Well

  • Type 2 Diabetes –Learn Ways to Improve and Sometimes Reverse Symptoms Altogether

  • 5-Day Detox (Perfect For The Work Week!)

Educating your employees about healthy food and lifestyle choices will increase employee engagement, while dramatically improving their health, therefore reducing time off for illness. They will learn how to make long-lasting lifestyle choices and the importance of exercise and movement, and how they play a key role in overall health. All of this increases productivity for your company as healthy employees makes for a profitable business!

Benefits To Your Employees Include:

  • Improved overall health

  • Understands the importance of whole foods nutrition for optimal energy and health

  • Reduce stress and anxiety

  • Reduce food cravings (especially the ones we need to avoid)

  • Increased energy and vitality

  • Increased daily production and satisfaction

  • Less sick days

Wellness workshop pricing is available upon request. Call Donna Markussen for more information at 781-354-4075 or write me at

bottom of page