According to a new global report by the World Obesity Federation, rates of childhood obesity could double among boys and increase by 125% among girls by 2035. This is a concerning trend as childhood obesity rates in the U.S. have already tripled in the past three decades, putting kids at higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Several factors contribute to the obesity epidemic, including too much screen time, lack of access to healthy food, socioeconomic factors, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. However, experts agree that increased consumption of highly processed foods is a leading contributor to childhood obesity.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a primary ingredient in many processed foods, making it a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic. It is also the lynchpin of the processed food industry, which has generated massive profits for Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the world’s richest men.
Warren Buffett, the fifth-richest person in the world with a net worth of $108 billion, has invested in Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational conglomerate company that identifies valuable companies and acquires increasingly large portions of them. Berkshire Hathaway has acquired large stakes in all stages of production in the HFCS industry, from farmland to processed food companies. This vertical integration investment strategy means that a substantial portion of Berkshire Hathaway’s profits is linked to the proliferation of corn syrup in the food system.
Buffett’s company also owns farmland where they grow corn, a major stake in fossil fuel companies that power industrial agriculture and make chemical inputs for farming, a company that makes grain storage silos for selling corn, the largest railroad in the U.S. which moves grain and processed foods across the country, and a commercial trailer rental company, which is the other major means of transportation for grains and processed foods.
Berkshire Hathaway also owns major stakes in some of the largest processed food companies, like Coca-Cola and Kraft Heinz, that use HFCS and other obesogens in their products, which they directly market to kids. These companies profit off of rising food prices while consumers’ food bills soar.
It’s important to note that these companies also benefit from close relationships with organizations meant to protect people’s health, particularly children’s health, from the damage associated with commodities like HFCS. For example, peer-reviewed research reveals Coca-Cola’s “close collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)…The Obesity Society (TOS), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).”
In summary, the HFCS industry is a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic, and the industry has generated massive profits for some of the world’s richest individuals.