The Scandal of Obesity Drug Promotion: Profits over Health

In an interview with Russell Brand, Cali Calatayuda discusses the dangerous influence of big food and big pharma on the American food system. Calatayuda, a former food and pharma industry worker turned whistleblower, exposes the ways these industries rig the system to maintain profits and keep people unhealthy. He highlights the scandal surrounding the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is funded by pharma companies and recently recommended obesity drugs for every obese person over the age of 12. Calatayuda emphasizes that the real issue is not obesity but the toxic, processed food children consume. He argues that healthy food should be prioritized over expensive drugs, and calls for a systemic change in our approach to food and healthcare.

Author Icon

Our Summaries are written by our own AI Infrastructure, to save you time on your Health Journey!

How does this happen?

Key Insights:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics, which sets guidelines for pediatrics in the US, is funded by the pharmaceutical industry and recently recommended that every overweight person over 12 gets an obesity drug.
  • The obesity drug, called ozempic, is a lifetime injection with serious and unknown metabolic effects when stopped.
  • The food and pharma industry rigs the system to maintain profits and keep people unhealthy, with obesity being a major profit source.
  • The medical system profits from interventions for sick people instead of focusing on prevention.
  • Processed food companies fund nutritional research and complicate the issue, creating confusion about the impact of sugar on obesity.
  • Our food system is poisoned, leading to various diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • The agricultural and industrialization models have detached us from nature, resulting in the most profitable and not the most nutritious foods being produced.
  • Educational and academic institutions have been co-opted by big food and lack credibility when it comes to nutrition and health research.
  • Our medical system is incentivized to profit from sick patients rather than prevent diseases through healthy eating.
  • The FDA, which regulates both big pharma and big food, is influenced by their funding and profits.
  • The problem of food and nutrition is tied to systemic corruption and inequality, as access to healthy food is a privilege.
  • The free market has been rigged, and it is crucial to focus on food and education to address the health crisis.
  • The issue of obesity and its related diseases should not be racialized or turned into a class issue. It is an urgent public health problem that affects everyone.
  • Policy recommendations should prioritize teaching children about healthy eating, exercise, and meditation rather than waiting for people to get sick and drugging them.
  • The cost of obesity drugs like ozempic is projected to be trillions of dollars over the next decade, while a fraction of that cost could provide organic, whole food for every obese child in the US.


Stay free with Russell Brand, see it first on Rumble. But one thing that we all require is sweet lady food without nutrition, without healthy diets, without good information about the food we eat, we are lost. Cali Means is an activist who used to work in the food and Pharma industry before leaving to become a whistleblower on companies like Coca-Cola, where he actually was involved in lobbying. For example, did you know that once they blagged it so that Coca-Cola got recommended to children? Like kids can drink Coca-Cola, it’s good for you. He now highlights the ways in which big food and big Pharma rigged the system to maintain profits and keep us unhealthy. Your obesity is their profit. Cali, thanks for joining us, mate.

Cali: Oh, great to be here, Russell. Now, we’ve just come out of a crisis where there’s been some controversy around injecting children, perhaps needlessly. What is this new obesity drug, Ozempic, and what’s the story behind it? And why is it dangerous?

Cali: Well, this is a scandal that I think is the biggest story in the country right now. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is what sets the guidelines for Pediatrics in this country, is actually a wholly owned subsidiary of Pharma. The majority of their funding comes from Pharma, but they set the agenda. And just last week, they recommended that every obese and overweight person in this country over 12 gets an obesity drug. And this is a lifetime injection. It says on the label for this drug that there are serious and unknown metabolic effects if you go off this drug. So, we have seen teenagers, particularly during COVID, now 45% obese or overweight. It’s obviously because of a rigged food system. Early in my career, I actually helped Coke rig the system. They paid the American Academy of Pediatrics directly. They pay the American Diabetes Association. Those associations, the medical establishment, has been silent on the fact that the cells and the metabolism of our children has been decimated by our food companies. But now that 45% of children are overweight or obese, we are getting a full court press to have this obesity drug injected into a large percentage of American teens, making them lifetime patients.

Russell: What’s so dangerous about this, and honestly heartbreaking, you know, having a new son, is that obesity isn’t the problem. The problem is that children systematically their rig system are putting poisonous, processed food into their system. And even if this obesity drug worked perfectly, which it doesn’t, it has massive side effects. If you’re eating 25% less poison, you’re still eating poison. You’re still feeding your cells bad things. You’re still going to have a lot of diseases and not an optimal life. So once again, it’s a distraction. It’s a form of distraction, making lifetime patients. And I think the most important thing here, or one of them, is that this is projected to be the most expensive drug in American history. We’re spending, we’re literally, we’re on track to spending trillions on this drug. It would be much cheaper to just have healthy food for kids.

Russell: It’s extraordinary through lobbying and through expenditure on dubious trialing methods, through controlling the stories around food, through controlling the stories of nutrition, it seems that an industry is devoted to creating new clients, new patients, new consumers for their products. Is it fair to say that the undue influence that big food is able to exert on organizations that research subjects like diabetes, heart conditions, and heart disease, oncology, and cancer, but we’re simply not getting the real picture of how we ought to eat and what’s healthy?

Cali: Yeah, so working for Coke 10 years ago and now I’m working to change things. Incentives, we had a strategy. No processed food companies contribute 11 times more money to nutritional research in the United States than the NIH. They’re basically processed food companies are funding research, and the direct strategy was to fund thousands and thousands of studies to complicate the issue. Still to this day, elite research institutions are putting out studies questioning whether sugar causes obesity, right? So, it’s mass confusion. And then, as you mentioned, the medical system is totally silent on that. The medical system is not ringing an alarm bell about childhood diabetes, diabetes, obesity. They’re profiting from it. And I think the key thing to understand is that we siled health in every institution, from Pharma to med schools to your hospital. They make money on interventions of people that are sick. And as you said, we’ve siled diseases into these things, right? We spend $250 billion on cancer. We spend over a trillion dollars on diabetes care. The most prescribed drug in the country, 25% of the United States is on a mental health medication, right? We have 40% of men over 40 in the US on a statin drug to prevent heart disease. The problem is, Russell, all of the conditions I just mentioned are going up as we’re treating them, as we’re spending trillions of dollars to treat these conditions in silos. They’re all getting worse. Rates of everything is going up. It’s because the foundational reason for all of the diseases you mentioned, Russell, it’s very simple, and we’re being gaslighted. It’s because of food, right? If you are metabolically healthy, if you’re eating healthy food, if you’re at a normal weight, you’re very unlikely to die from COVID. You have almost zero percent chance of getting diabetes, heart disease, even Alzheimer’s, which is now called type 3 diabetes and is highly tied to metabolism. So, we are ignoring the actual simple root cause, and this is by design. People getting sicker and sicker and us kind of confused about why that is helps the medical industry profit. And I’ll disclose, you know, this with this story. I was actually debating a leading Harvard doctor this week who is a big proponent for Ozempic. There’s this big push. She’s saying that obesity is actually a genetic disease, not tied quote to food or lifestyle. They’re literally arguing that at Harvard. And when pushed, she said she does not know why there’s a crisis of childhood obesity and it’s quote complicated. This is not complicated. We are being poisoned from a rigged food system, and the medical system is profiting. That is disgusting, that the Food and Drug Administration agency, the FDA, that they regulate both big Pharma and they regulate big food, and they take 45% of their funding from the pharmaceutical industry. And we can see now how what you, correctly adjudicate to be a process of delicious poisoning through sugary, fatty, salty processed foods is a win-win for them. I get the sort of symbol, the metaphor, talking to Cali, that the agricultural models that meant that we were able to detach ourselves from nature, plus industrialization, and our corrupt systems has meant that the food that we are fed are the most profitable foods, not the most nutritious foods. That was bad enough when it were carbohydrate-based diets, you know, peasants in whatever country in potatoes or pasta or rice or whatever bread, whatever’s the appropriate food for peasants in that time. But now, the appropriate food is poison. I see us as if we were latched with tubes siphoning off our energy, pumping poisons into us. But we’re like blobs of commodity now. And when you say that our finest educational and academic institutions have been co-opted, that there is no credibility, that it is normal for a top Harvard professional to be so apparently credulous about how children’s childhood obesity could increase with sugar and fat are increasing in diets, and when there is so much money spent on lobbying by the food industry, so mate, what was your personal epiphany? When did you realize that you were working in a deeply corrupted industry? And what can we do now, systemically and individually?

Cali: So, my sister was the pride of the family. We both went to Stanford. She was much smarter than me. She was president of her undergrad class, was top of her class at Stanford med school and then was an elite surgeon. And she, you know, after training for 13 years had an out-of-body experience where she was doing her third surgery of the day, looking down at a patient, and they had inflammation. She was doing a sinusitis, cutting out their sinus, and she did not know why that person had inflammation. She was only trained in medical school how to cut that out, how to prescribe a drug. And what she realized is that Stanford med school, Harvard med school, all the elite med schools in the United States, 80% in total do not teach one nutrition class to doctors. And then when you trace the money, more than 50% of medical school funding touches Pharma. Doctors spend almost every moment in medical school learning pharmacology. They actually do not have any awe, as you talk about, Russell, or understanding or curiosity about the interconnectivity of our body and the miraculousness of life. They stand, you know, our medical system is incentivized to stand and wait for people to get sick. She quit and has been on a warpath. Her name’s Dr. Casey Means and has inspired me a lot. And then that ties recently to our beloved, our best friend, our mom dying of pancreatic cancer. She got that diagnosis in 2021, died 13 days later. She was perfectly healthy. And tying that back, pancreatic cancer is highly tied to metabolic dysfunction, to food. You know, cancers, dementia, kidney disease, COVID deaths, all these things, when you trace it, are actually tied to food. So, Russell, it’s really convinced me, some of these personal experiences. Like you know, you did really take it to a spiritual level. Like we are decimating our human capital. When 25% of kids now have pre-diabetes, diabetes, it is cellular dysregulation in their brains, throughout their precious bodies. You know, this is the first-order issue. And I think we’re really being just distracted from it. And we need to get back to just awe and curiosity about the interconnectivity of what’s happening in our body. I think it’s the most important issue we face in the world.

Russell: Yes, I think you’re right. I think that what we require are systems that revere our nature and support our nature rather than enhance the evident corruption and mapped-on systems that are built for profit. It’s interesting what you say about love and that lack of curiosity. Of course, it seems that when you have a poisoned, bewildered, distracted population, you can profit from their illness. You can profit from every aspect of their life. You profit from fattening them up. You profit from healing them. And obviously, a drug where pharmacological pharmaceutical companies can go to their shareholders and say, „This is a drug they have to take for the rest of their lives,“ that’s incredible. Also, it’s a problem of inequality, of course, isn’t it? Because now people that are affluent, and I’d have to say, I include myself in this, you replicate the kind of diet that you would have if you were living naturally. Like, I recognize that I should be eating organic food. I should probably eat food that’s available in the place that I’m at, in the season that I’m in. The ordinary conditions of our evolution are now a privilege because we are tied to economic systems and institutions of profit that will not support or access to nature, even when it comes to sustenance, let alone nutrition.

Cali: Yeah, I mean, I’m a free-market guy, but I think the free market’s been totally rigged. And I think it’s incumbent, and I think I am optimistic because we’re calling this out. I do think people are waking up. I want to put one point, though, on this class issue because I think that debate’s really weaponized. You know, I’ve talked about this on other programs. But working for Coke, one of the first things we did is paid the NAACP and all their civil rights groups. And I think that’s part of the playbook. It’s to racialize and make the debate a class issue. Of course, it was total gaslighting because what was at stake here is that Coke wanted more funding to keep lower-income children on Coke, which is giving them diabetes. But I really want to make this point. If you came down as an alien to Earth, to the United States, and saw what was going on, 80% of adults obese or overweight, metabolic dysfunction, eight of the 10 top killers tied to food, you know, just getting away from our evolution, you’d have a clear policy recommendation. Let’s really focus on food. Let’s focus on teaching kids how to exercise, how to meditate, to get control of their mind, you know, how to eat healthy. That would obviously, I mean, anyone 100% of the time would say that’s the policy recommendation. That’s not what we do. We wait for everyone to get sick and then drug them. And it’s much more expensive. In the United States, and this is an important point going back to Ozempic, the obesity drug, because the system’s so rigged, because Pharma spends three times more than any other industry on lobbying, the United States is not even able to negotiate the drug price, even though they’re the largest payer. So, Ozempic, you know, prices don’t go down when volume goes up. Prices are going up in healthcare and quality is getting worse. So, Ozempic is $2,500 a year. It’s not going down. There’s a full court press for government subsidization, taxpayer funding. It literally, this sounds hyperbolic, but this is the case. If that is prescribed, how it’s projected that will be trillions of dollars over the next 10 years. So, again, we talk about this class. We talk about poor folks not being able to afford the food. Again, you take one-fifth of the amount we’re planning to spend on Ozempic, you could buy organic, pure whole food for every obese child in this country. So, I think that economic debate, we really need to understand we have a public policy that waits for people to get sick, which I think is evil.