Is Food the New Pharma or Woo-Woo?

Topics: Cancer, Environmental Health, High Cholesterol, Wellness and Health

New exciting food is the new pharma initiatives seem to be fighting with an equally new governmental crack-down on food with pharma claims.

Who should you believe?

On the one hand, Nestle is about to invest $500m in a new company to create food-based solutions to diabetes, obesity, Alzheimers and more.

I think this is brilliant–Kit-Kats aside–and will bring much of the global interest in the health effects of foods front and center.  And it’s about time.

On the other hand, the FDA doesn’t like Walgreen’s/CVS/Johnson and Johnson claiming that their mouthwash improves oral health because it contains flouride.  The FTC doesn’t like POM Wonderful’s claims that it improves prostate cancer (or its CEO’s claims that it is “40 percent as effective as Viagra“)…or a dozen other issues in the warning letter.  Cheerios don’t lower cholesterol, Mini-Wheats don’t improve kids attention, and there is more to come.

How does a consumer make sense of this?  Does food work like medicine, or is it just food?

I’m going to talk about this, and our way out, at TEDx American Riviera in Santa Barbara next month: the NYTimes covered TEDx talks this weekend. Expect 12 intense and hopefully entertaining minutes.