Industry involvement in public health ‘like having burglars fit your locks’

Researchers in The Lancet are calling for the complete exclusion of multinational food and drink corporations from the development of public health policy.

According to the authors, evidence shows that the food, drink, and alcohol industries use the same strategies as tobacco companies "to undermine public health interventions" and that voluntary regulation has little effect.

"Self-regulation is like having burglars install your locks," Rob Moodie (University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) told the press. "You think you're safe, but you're not."

"Public regulation and market intervention are the only evidence-based mechanisms we know of to date that can prevent harm caused by these unhealthy commodity industries," he added.

The researchers report that food and alcohol manufacturers have been involved in causing research bias through funded studies, interfering in national policy, and lobbying politicians - strategies they say have been used by "big tobacco" to downplay the negative effect of their products on health and to minimize the negative impact of public health strategies on business.

The authors also highlight the public health danger posed to low- and middle-income countries, whose markets have the biggest potential for expansion while Western markets are saturated and stagnated by the economic crisis.

"Almost all growth in the foreseeable future in profits and sales of these unhealthy commodities will be in low-income and middle-income countries [where consumption is currently low]," they write.

Moodie and colleagues assert that strategies such as self-regulation and public-private partnerships, which are currently favored by most governments must be abandoned: "Regulation, or the threat of regulation, is the only way to change these transnational corporations; therefore, the audience for public health is government and not industry."

Sir Ian Gilmore, from the UK Royal College of Physicians, said that Moodie and colleagues' study was the "final nail in the coffin" for responsibility deals and self-regulation in the alcohol industry.

"Any government serious about public health should in future divorce its public health activities from industry involvement," he concluded in a press statement.

Licensed from medwireNews with permission from Springer Healthcare Ltd. ©Springer Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither of these parties endorse or recommend any commercial products, services, or equipment.

Kirsty Oswald

Written by

Kirsty Oswald

Kirsty has a B.Sc. in Human Sciences from University College London. After several years working as medical copywriter, she became a medical journalist and is now freelance. Kirsty also works part-time as an editor for a London-based charity. She is particularly interested in the social and cultural aspects of science.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Oswald, Kirsty. (2020, April 02). Industry involvement in public health ‘like having burglars fit your locks’. News-Medical. Retrieved on March 08, 2021 from

  • MLA

    Oswald, Kirsty. "Industry involvement in public health ‘like having burglars fit your locks’". News-Medical. 08 March 2021. <>.

  • Chicago

    Oswald, Kirsty. "Industry involvement in public health ‘like having burglars fit your locks’". News-Medical. (accessed March 08, 2021).

  • Harvard

    Oswald, Kirsty. 2020. Industry involvement in public health ‘like having burglars fit your locks’. News-Medical, viewed 08 March 2021,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
You might also like... ×
Survey reveals impact of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination in the UK