Seminar 6: A critical examination of Food Industry Partnerships and Practices
featuring Cécile Knai, Professor of Public Health Policy at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine & Dr. Laura Vergeer, Research Programs Officer in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto.
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
12 pm – 1 pm EST
Hosted via Zoom
Zoom link will be shared two hours prior to the meeting to everyone who registers*
The corporation is arguably the most powerful social and economic institution globally, with unprecedented power to shape scientific evidence, public policy, and lifestyles such as dietary behaviours. In this seminar, we feature two speakers who will 1) critically interrogate the positioning of the food industry as a legitimate partner for the public sector and the resulting impacts; and, 2) explore the challenges with voluntary commitments, which maximize flexibility for the food industry, but that can impede the creation of a healthier food supply and food environment.
Cécile Knai is Professor of Public Health Policy at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is one of the leads of the newly established LSHTM Commercial Determinants Research Group. Her widely published and internationally recognised research comprises analyses of policy governance arrangements, policy evaluations, and how unhealthy commodity industries (UCIs) work to shape public health policies, with a particular focus on food (but also increasingly across UCIs). This includes a current project synthesising the effectiveness of different governance arrangements (mandatory, voluntary, or partnerships) of population interventions to improve diet. It also includes leadership in conflict of interest management guidance, for example her role as chair of the UKPRP-funded SPECTRUM consortium on the commercial determinants of health’s Interactions and Interests Review Group, and her current development of conflict of interest management guidance for LSHTM staff. She is one of the organisers of a new LSHTM Short Course on Conducting Research on the Commercial Determinants of Health (20-24 June 2022). She also leads other programmes of research, including the public health policy arm of the LSHTM Policy Innovation and Evaluation Research Unit (PIRU), and the LSHTM team of an European Commission-funded project on systems thinking to address adolescent obesity, and holds a range of editorial and committee roles.
Dr. Laura Vergeer is the Research Programs Officer in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, where she earned her PhD in 2021. Her thesis compared the product (re)formulation actions and commitments of the top packaged food and beverage companies in Canada and was completed under the supervision of Dr. Mary L’Abbé. Dr. Vergeer has also led or contributed to studies on food company nutrition policies, food processing, food marketing to children, food prices, dietary practices, nutrient profiling and nutrition labelling. As a graduate student, she received the CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, as well as research and leadership awards from the Canadian Nutrition Society, Obesity Canada and the University of Toronto. Dr. Vergeer also completed the Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy through the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.