U.S. News and World Report recently featured ‘Stuffed’ and interviewed Hank on solving the obesity crisis:

“In more than 30 years of working in the food industry, Hank Cardello didn’t think much about the health consequences of the products he promoted, whether Betty Crocker cake mixes, a proposed new malt liquor, or Diet Coke. He thinks about them plenty now, though. After a cancer scare in 1995, Cardello switched gears and started to look more critically at how his industry might help combat obesity. He’s now CEO of 27 Degrees North, a consulting firm that helps companies marry profit and social responsibility. In Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat (Ecco), just released in paperback, Cardello lays out his views on why consumers are not entirely to blame for their own girth, why well-meaning government regulations often fail, and how the food industry might put its marketing oomph behind better alternatives to some of the high-calorie packaged foods that Americans snarf down. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation…”

Focusing on food package labels as a panacea for the nation’s overweight and obesity crisis is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic: lots of activity, but no real impact. Too much emphasis is placed on micromanaging acceptable levels of trans fats, sodium or the type of sugar used rather than focusing on the big picture. We need to engage the food corporations to lower the calories.

Labels alone cannot change the fact that for Americans there are 29 percent more calories available to eat than 50 years ago. Obesity is a supply problem and must be dealt with at the source.

A better way to start reducing America’s collective girth is to give food corporations incentives to sell less calories in a way that does not damage their bottom lines. One novel approach would be to adjust the deductions food corporations receive for their advertising expenditures based on their willingness to cut back on calories.

Companies that lower calories get to maintain their deductions. Those that do an exceptional job of cutting calories by more than 10 percent in a year can receive even higher deductions. And those that continue to spew excess calories on their customers would forfeit a percentage of these favorable tax treatments.

Unlike punitive “fat taxes” on soda, candy and snacks, which hurt industry sales, raise costs to consumers, and result in corporate push-back, a better approach would give food companies reason to reduce the calories they sell. It’s time to recognize that the food manufacturers must be a partner in helping to solve the obesity problem.

Do We Need to Know What’s in Junk Food? – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com