Corporate involvement in the process of food distribution causes changes in eating habits and farming patterns. This creates not just unsustainable forms of production that are ecologically devastating, but also unhealthy consumption choices.
As affluent western markets reach saturation point, global food and drink firms have been seeking entry into developing country markets, often targeting poor families and changing their food consumption habits.
Such highly processed food and drink is also a major cause of increased incidence of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and alcoholism, all of which have been rising rapidly in the developing world.
The recent experience of South Africa is especially telling: around one-fourth of schoolchildren are now obese or overweight, as are 60% of women and 31% of men. Diabetes rates are also soaring.
Alarmingly, nearly 20% of children aged one to nine there still have stunted growth, having suffered the kind of long-term malnutrition that leaves irreversible damage. And it has been found that obesity and malnutrition often occur in the same household.
As it is in India, public health budgets are appallingly inadequate even for infectious diseases.
Can we even imagine the impact of health outcomes resulting not just from under-nutrition, but from corporate-driven malnutrition and lifestyle diseases even among the poor sections of society?Previous columns by Dr Jayati Ghosh:
Renowned economist Dr Jayati Ghosh is the Professor of Economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. She is also a member of the National Knowledge Commission set up by the Indian Prime Minister.