How Big Food Is 'Double Dipping'

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In the world of scams, there's a term called "double dipping." This is where the con artist not only suckers their "marks" into giving up a huge portion of their money, but also gets them -- generally with the help of an accomplice -- to part with another bunch of dough, usually in a "Want to catch the people who scammed you? Give me some money and I'll help" fashion.

The reason this works is two-fold. First, no one likes admitting they've been suckered, so they're more apt to go through quieter, more nefarious channels to get their money back. Second, as proven by the fact that they've been suckered once ... they're suckers! Con artists go after them because they've already proven they can be duped.

And that, my friends, is how Big Food has been working for the past few decades. They're the con artists, we're the marks, and they've been double-dipping at will.

While their attempts to get us addicted to their processed offerings -- tweaking the various levels of additives to find the perfect cocktail that our bodies crave -- has been well documented, what's been less reported is the fact that many of those same companies are also getting rich on the other end of the spectrum. Weight Watchers is owned by the Heinz corporation. [Correction: Heinz owned Weight Watchers from 1978 to 1999, but sold it for $735 million to an investment firm. Heinz still manufactures the company's food products, however. ] Slim-Fast is owned by Unilever, who also owns Hellmann's mayonnaise, Klondike ice cream, and Lipton's large spread of sugar-infused iced teas. And Nestlé owns Jenny Craig. Over and over again, the multinational giants responsible for spreading the gospel of fat, sugar, and salt are also profiting by getting addicts off that unholy trinity.

As The Guardian elegantly puts it:

What you see when you walk into a supermarket in 2013 is the entire 360 degrees of obesity in a single glance. The whole panorama of fattening you up and slimming you down, owned by conglomerates which have analyzed every angle and money-making opportunity. The very food companies charged with making us fat in the first place are now also making money from the obesity epidemic.

Big Food is, essentially, like a group of genius drug dealers who not only control the corners, but also the rehab clinic in Malibu. They'll not only get you hooked on their product, but for an additional fee will get the monkey off your back.

As Jacques Perreti, the author of The Guardian piece, points out, this has been the way of the food world since the late '90s, when the World Health Organization took the drastic step of redefining how we looked at global obesity. No longer was it a "coming social catastrophe," but instead a full-blown "epidemic." The meeting also changed the definition of what overweight is, lowering the barrier from a BMI of 27 down to 25.

Overnight, millions of people around the globe would shift from the "normal" to the "overweight" category.

News reports picked up the WHO warning and spread the world. And, as you'd expect if a globally respected institution suddenly tells a large group of people that they need to lose weight, millions of now "overweight" people flocked to the diet sections of grocery stores. This kind of industry shift doesn't go unnoticed by profit-centric conglomerates, which put the dieting industries in their crosshairs. And the diet industry was quickly bought out by Big Food. Hence, the current state of the industry where they serve as both devil and angel. Hence, the folks who are making us fat getting a whopping bonus of nearly $47 billion a year.

So, how do we put an end to this? The answer is to attack the problem from both ends.

Forgoing processed foods and buying as many locally-grown products as possible is only half of the solution. The other half is steering clear of the dieting sections of grocery store aisles, going the healthy-eating-and-exercise route to lose weight. Put an end to the binge-and-purge cycle, both of which fill the coffers of Big Food. They think you're a sucker, waiting to be double-dipped. Show them otherwise.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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