Health column by Dr. Greg Feinsinger. Champion of Whole Food Plant Based Living and righteous person.
It’s been estimated that some 80 percent of the chronic diseases that make Americans sick and kill them—such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and cancer—could be prevented if we just moved about more and ate better. However, similar to what the tobacco industry did a few decades ago, the food industry spends billions of dollars every year convincing people to buy and eat disease-causing products. Grocery store chains are complicit as well, by accepting money from food companies to put unhealthy products in prominent places in the stores, where shoppers can’t miss them.
The consumer advocacy organization called Center For Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was established in 1971 to counter the misleading information propagated by the food and supplement industries. Its advisory board is made up of experts such as Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic and Frank Sacks, M.D. of Harvard. CSPI is funded by private foundations and by the 900,000 subscribers to their monthly publication called Nutrition Action Healthletter.
Nutrition Action helps educate consumers so they can make healthier food choices when shopping and when eating out (remember those pre-COVID days when people ate out?). CSPI emphasizes the health benefits of eating vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds but does not specifically promote vegan or even vegetarian eating.
The December issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter is devoted to deceptive ads and labels by the food industry. In addition, CSPI has been busy in Washington, “prodding the government and the courts” to stop these harmful practices. Following are some examples of what CSPI has done during 2020:
- They urged the FDA to ban claims like “just a tad sweet” and “slightly sweet” on sugary drinks.
- They pressured companies and the FDA to fix misleading grain claims–such as images of wheat on cereal boxes and bread wrappers and using phrases such as “multi-grain”–on products actually made from disease-causing refined grains.
- CSPI is pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture “to develop policies for online retailers that participate in the SNAP [formerly known as Food Stamps] program to highlight only healthy foods and drinks…”
CSPI is also involved in pushing for honesty in the multi-billion-dollar but poorly regulated supplement industry, by actions such as the following:
- They have been pressuring the FDA to crack down on “unsubstantiated ‘anti-viral’ and anti-COVID supplement claims” made by scammers since the COVID pandemic began.
- By law, supplement claims have to be backed by the TOTALITY of scientific evidence, but a recent court decision allows supplement manufacturers to make claims if they just have SOME scientific evidence, even if the preponderance of evidence is negative. CSPI’s legal team has joined the fight to overturn this decision.
In this era of deregulation, we’re fortunate to have consumer advocacy organizations such as CSPI looking out for our health.