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Should corporations be involved in deciding public health policy?

The Imperial College International Public Health Society is hosting a debate entitled:

Should corporations be involved in deciding public health policy? 

Monday 31st January 2011
Starts: 17.50
Finishes: 19.00
Location: Clinical Lecture Theatre (Room 234), Cambridge Wing, St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, Praed Street, London W2 1NY.

The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, recently announced his new plans for corporations such as McDonalds and PepsiCo to be key players in writing UK public health policy. They will co-chair five ‘responsibility deals’ with government ministers, which will give them unprecedented power and influence. Will this help fight obesity, alcohol and diet-related diseases, or make these problems worse?

The 3 speakers will be:

MELANIE LEECH, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation.
The Food and Drink Federation is the UK’s largest trade association representing food and drink companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury’s, Mars, Nestle, Muller Dairy, McVities, Kellogg’s, McCain, Unilever, GSK, Sara Lee and Tate & Lyle. Melanie will explain how the Responsibility Deals will work, and the roles that the Food and Drink Federation and its members will play.

DIANE ABBOTT, MP
Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and she is also the Shadow Public Health Minister. In a recent Guardian article she said: "I was shocked to discover that the health secretary is involving companies like McDonald's and PepsiCo and big manufacturers in shaping policy on nutrition. There is a wealth of literature that shows that junk food and fast food is the worst kind of diet and rather than taking advice from people who peddle it we should be helping people avoid it”.

DR GEOF RAYNER 
Geof Rayner PhD is professor associate in public health at Brunel University and visiting research fellow at City University. He is also an advisor to the Department of Health on obesity prevention, and he will talk about a research study on the impact of Private-Public Partnerships on obesity that he is undertaking for the European Commission. He believes that companies have an important corporate social responsibility role, but he is concerned about the level of policy-making power they will have under the new ‘Responsibility Deals’.

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