Study finds palm oil industry mimics Big Tobacco on playing down public health impacts

February 5, 2019  14:18

From heart disease to raised levels of bad cholesterol, a new study finds that haze is not the only public health impact of palm oil, and that the industry’s strategies to hide these resembles that of tobacco and alcohol industries.

It’s responsible for pushing a product found in half of the most common food and consumer items, but the $60 billion palm oil industry has largely evaded the kind of public health scrutiny focused on the tobacco and alcohol industries.

Now, a new study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization finds that the palm oil industry is cribbing from the same playbook as the other two in playing down the health impacts of its ubiquitous commodity.

 “We need to mitigate the influence of the palm oil and related industries on public health policies and programmes,” lead author Sowmya Kadandale of UNICEF and her colleagues write in their study, “The palm oil industry and non-communicable diseases.”

“The relationship between the palm oil and processed food industries, and the tactics they employ, resembles practices adopted by the tobacco and alcohol industries,” they write. “However, the palm oil industry receives comparatively little scrutiny.”

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