Malhotra's rise to semi-notoriety can be put down the fact that if he didn't exist, the public health lobby would have to invent him—a man who plays fast and loose with the evidence, who treats unproven theories and outright quackery as facts and who has a Johann Hari-esque ability to quote from unverified conversations with people who happen to prove his points. Few are prepared to use the term 'Big Food' without a hint of self-consciousness, let alone explicitly equate the food industry with 'Big Tobacco'. Malhotra does it all the time and he ramps up the hyperbole every time he appears in the media.
His latest appearance was on Irish television. You will seldom see such a blatant example of slippery-slopery as in his open remarks here, as he tries to flatter the Irish government into taking unspecified legislative action to change people's diets.
He congratulates the Irish on being the first country to bring in a smoking ban and then says:
"It took fifty years from when the links between smoking and lung cancer were raised to actual regulation that had an impact. Think about how many millions of lives could have potentially been saved if this had happened earlier. And what's quite sad is we see the food industry adopting the same dirty tactics as the tobacco industry to avoid regulation, planting doubt about their products being particularly harmful, confusing the public and even denial."
This argument is entirely bogus. It is not even an argument in any recognised sense.
Leaving aside the obvious differences between food and tobacco, which are colossal there is no reason whatsoever why the link between smoking and lung cancer should have led to a ban on smoking in 'public' places fifty years earlier. The justification for the smoking ban came from the (admittedly flimsy) evidence about passive smoking that was published several decades later. Granted, there was an unspoken goal of making smoking so inconvenient for people that they would quit, but that was not the given reason. In any case, the ban did not lead to smokers quitting. In Ireland, the smoking rate increased while in the UK the smoking rate flat-lined. Some "impact".
There is simply no parallel between the smoking ban and Malhotra's plans for 'obesity control'. The only reason he cites it—as he has before—is that it is the prime example of a government acting in an illiberal and draconian manner on the basis of feeble evidence as a result of lobbying from monomaniacs like himself. His justification for using the force of the state to change eating habits is that the state already uses force to change smoking habits. This is the 'domino effect' logic in a nutshell.
The food industry should let people like this starve.