Stagnito’s Obesity Summit 2004

Food Industry Targets America’s Health Crisis
The roil of media attention is unrelenting. The obesity crisis is good copy, in all its permutations. In May, Time magazine’s cover story was Low-Carb Nation. “Nutritionists are horrified, but they can’t stop the force that is reshaping the food industry—and our bodies,” it intoned.
This hyperbole comes in the wake of similar diet and health cover stories, network news specials, a rising volume of medical research targeting connections between food and fat, and incredibly popular diets, such as Atkins and Barry Sears’ Zone. Many of these stories are based on questionable assumptions about the link between food marketing and obesity. But where there are victims, there must be someone or something to blame. Behind the headlines, cash-strapped legislators are looking into how best to help slim down their constituents by taxing junk food—and pour much-needed revenue into state coffers. And veteran tobacco war lawyers, enriched and bored after winning massive judgments against the cigarette companies, are now eagerly eyeing “big food.”
They have deep pockets and substantial incentive. In 1999, obesity was declared a national epidemic (31% of adults between age 20 and 74 are obese); and the food industry makes for a visible and lucrative target.
One of the leading attorneys in this effort is Richard Daynard, a Northeastern University (Mass.) law professor. His focus is fast food, and he has already conducted a high-level conference to explore how litigation can address the obesity epidemic.
Daynard’s contention is that while fast-food companies knowingly manipulate children via their marketing efforts, they have made little effort to offer “healthy” foods.
In fact, Fortune magazine devoted its January 21, 2003 cover to the headline: “Is Fat the Next Tobacco?” The writers concluded: “…prudent food companies might do well to start scrutinizing their advertising and packaging, tweaking product lines, and, yes, squirreling away some reserves for potential judgments.” In other words, once the trial lawyers take aim, it’s all but over.
Predictably, the public debate surrounding obesity centers more on the blame game than on solutions. The food industry has taken its share of flak, but it’s not alone. Education, suburban sprawl, labor-saving devices, the service economy, even cable TV, and cheap food are all cited as co-conspirators.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the decade of the 1990s witnessed a rampant rise in the number of adults classified as obese. In 1991, only three states reported an obese population of 20% or more. By 1999, the number had grown to 49 states, with a corresponding pattern for diabetes. Today, the CDC estimates that 61% of adults are overweight or obese. Figures for the economic costs vary, but CDC has it pegged at approximately $117 billion per year and climbing. Moreover, incidences of childhood diabetes and heart disease, rare just a generation ago, are rising alarmingly.
Ironically, the average American’s daily caloric intake isn’t much different than it was in 1965. Today, a sedentary lifestyle is more likely to be a contributor to obesity.
The trend has caught the attention of the media, which has dramatically increased its attention on the issue. From a handful of stories in 1999 to more than a thousand over the last year, the media is raising both awareness and emotions. The media and some activists are determined to find a smoking gun, someone or something to accuse for the current state of affairs.
And the food industry is beginning to get the message. Just how this message is taking shape, and how it will shape the food industry is the theme of Stagnito’s Obesity Summit 2004, to be held June 24-25 at the Indian Lakes Resort near Chicago. Trial lawyers, food manufacturing companies, retailers, and foodservice all will be represented in this unprecedented forum. This is an issue destined to have a profound impact on the food industry. Find out how you can be a positive, profitable part of the process.
For more information about registration, visit, and click on Obesity Summit 2004, or call 1-866-265-1975 or 1-212-596-6006.
Stagnito's Obesity 2004 Summit
This powerful conference will draw together leaders from across the food industry to evaluate the challenge posed by the global obesity epidemic and forge a unified, productive response. Issues range from the threat of “Twinkie taxes” and class actions against junk food to the meteoric rise of low-carb foods and the radical reworking of foodservice menus. An unprecedented gathering of the most influential and powerful figures in the unfolding crisis, speakers include:
- Richard A. Daynard, J.D., Ph.D., Professor, Northeastern University School of Law, Chair, Tobacco Products Liability Project, Director, Public Health Advocacy Institute’s Law and Obesity Project.
- Roeland Polet, CEO, Carbolite Foods. Carbolite is a leading innovator in the low-carb revolution. It has more than 37 products in nearly 30,000 stores globally.
- Dr. Barry Sears, author of The Zone. Dr. Sears is a leading authority in the field of dietary control of hormonal response. His first book, The Zone, hit the market in 1995 generating much controversy.
- Irwin Simon, CEO, Hain Celestial Group. One of the leading natural foods companies in the world, and the first natural foods conglomerate to demonstrate the scalability of upscale, natural food products across multiple categories.
- Paul Stitt, founder and CEO, Natural Ovens Bakery. One of the first to explore healthy alternatives to traditional product lines, and prove the mass market viability of such a strategy.
- Jerry P. Smiley, principal, Strategic Growth Partners. This innovative firm provides strategic guidance to manufacturers in all channels of food distribution wrestling with the obesity crisis.
- Stacey Lauen, new product manager, Freschetta, Schwan’s Consumer Brands. New products and innovation across a spectrum of product categories has enabled this company to grow and maintain its high-quality reputation.
- Phil Mesi, president, Subway Development Corp. The foodservice leader in offering multiple healthy menu alternatives is able to profitably react to a fast- changing consumer market.
- Catherine Roberts, vice president, market research, Food Spectrum. LLC. A leader in evaluating and projecting consumer trends and tastes.
- Sylvia B. Rowe, president and CEO, International Food Information Council (IFIC). IFIC and the IFIC Foundation are among the leading organizations for communication of science-based information on food safety and nutrition.
- Stuart Lawrence Trager, M.D., medical director, Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. (ANI) and chairperson of the Atkins Physicians Council.

June 24 and June 25, 2004 Indian Lakes Resort, Bloomingdale, IL (suburban Chicago)
Thursday, June 24
7:30-8:15 Continental Breakfast
8:15-8:30 Welcome/Introduction
8:30-10:00 Session 1: Blue-Ribbon Keynote Panel Discussion Framing the crisis: Threats and Opportunities
10:00-10:15 BREAK
10:15-11:15 Session 2: The new marketing paradigm— obesity and consumer trends Food, fitness and a sedentary lifestyle
11:15-11:30 BREAK
11:30-12:15 Session 3: Understanding the low-carb phenomenon Is it a fad or a trend?
12:15-1:45 LUNCH
1:45-2:45 Session 4: Foodservice Panel Menu changes, litigation, schools. How to win in new business
2:45-3:30 Session 5: Retail Store formats, private label, new niche retailers, public information
3:30-3:45 BREAK
3:45-5:15 Session 6: Manufacturing/Processing Panel Healthy foods that balance taste, nutrition, convenience and value—can it be done? NETWORKING RECEPTION
Friday, June 25
7:30-8:15 Continental Breakfast
8:15-8:30 Opening Remarks, Day One Summary
8:30-9:15 Session 7: Case Study 1 Start-up company—health focused, riding the new tide
9:15-10:00 Session 8: Case Study 2 How companies reposition
10:00-10:15 BREAK
10:15-10:45 Session 9: Case Study 3