In early September, "major newspapers reported the alarming news that suicides among young people were on the rise because of a precipitous drop in the use of antidepressants," writes Alison Bass. The academic study the news articles were based on concluded that new safety warnings for young people using antidepressant drugs had discouraged doctors from writing prescriptions for depressed youths.
Peggy O'Mara, the editor of Mothering Magazine, reports that "in addition to the inaccurate information on breastfeeding" by the media, the "marketing practices of the formula companies continue to undermine breastfeeding." She notes the existence of several "stealth" websites "that appear to be grassroots advocacy sites, but are actually mouthpieces for the formula industry." One of the websites, MomsFeedingFreedom.com, is campaigning against proposed restrictions on the free bags of infant
Babies that are not breast fed suffer higher rates of health problems including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, obesity, high cholesterol and asthma. Unfortunately, many parents are still unaware of these risks, thanks to the infant formula industry.
A survey of the impact of marketing on children's taste preferences has revealed the power of McDonald's. Sixty-three preschoolers from low-income families in California were presented with five samples of identical foods and beverages, one in McDonald's packaging and the other in unbranded packaging. They were then asked "to indicate if they tasted the same or if one tasted better." The results?
PR Week has more on McDonald's "moms' quality correspondence" PR campaign. The fast food giant met with the six mothers in early June, "at the company's global headquarters in Oak Brook, IL. Future interactions will include a visit to a beef supplier in August and a 'farm field' and produce supplier in September. ...
In an attempt to deflect criticism that its fast food makes children fat, McDonald's is recruiting mothers as "quality correspondents" to observe and report on its operations.
If you think the U.S. tobacco industry is bad, you'll find the behavior of many of the same companies overseas to be truly shocking.
Happily, the industry is beginning to be held accountable for its operations in the Global South. Nigeria's two largest states are following the lead of U.S. states, in suing British American Tobacco (BAT) of Nigeria, its U.K. parent company and Philip Morris International for the health care costs of treating sick smokers, The Times of London reported this week.
The new lawsuits demonstrate the importance of the online public databases of previously secret tobacco industry documents. The 1998 U.S. Master Settlement Agreement required major tobacco companies to reveal millions of pages documenting unethical -- and even illegal -- marketing, public relations and lobbying campaigns. A lesser-known treasure trove is the British American Tobacco Documents Archive, which has made some seven million pages of BAT documents freely available. These documents are of particular importance to countries like Nigeria.