Oh, insurance companies. I knew you had some questionable ties to the tobacco industry, but you just keep making me sick impressing me with your investments. Via CNN:
According to Harvard Medical School researchers, 11 large companies that offer life, disability, or health insurance owned about $1.9 billion in stock in the five largest fast-food companies as of June 2009.
Those fast food companies include McDonald’s, Burger King, and Yum! — the parent company of KFC and Taco Bell. According to CNN, “the fast-food industry has long been under fire for selling high-fat, high calorie meals that have been linked to weight gain and diabetes.” Now, maybe I’m just idealistic, naive, etc., but doesn’t it strike you as kind of unethical for insurance companies — especially those that provide health coverage — to hold stock in this industry?
The Harvard Medical School researchers think so:
The researchers say insurance companies should sell their fast-food stock or use their influence as shareholders to make fast food healthier, by pressuring big restaurant chains to cut portion sizes or improve nutrition, for instance.
There’s a “potential disconnect” between the mission of insurance companies and the often-unhealthy food churned out by companies like McDonald’s, they write.
By investing in unhealthy products like tobacco and fast food, the article says, the companies profit twice over. They can raise premiums for smoking and conditions caused by unhealthy eating — plus, stocks rise.
I know, I know, at the end of the day, each of us is responsible for taking care of our own bodies. We like to see ourselves as smart, independent thinkers who aren’t swayed by advertising — but if that were totally true, companies wouldn’t waste their time and money on ad campaigns. Children and teenagers can be especially susceptible. So until we live in a totally ethical world — ha — all we can do is stay vigilant for ourselves and our kids.
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