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Okay, children, homework time.
Let’s see if we can handle this little lesson in logic: One, America has a rather huge child obesity problem; two, major food corporations constantly pitch ads to children for such stuff as sugar-saturated breakfast cereals and fat-laden “Happy Meals.” So, how does fact #2 relate to fact #1? Yes, number two is a cause of number one! It’s really not that hard to grasp, is it?
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Unless you’re a lobbyist for a food manufacturer. Last year, Congress directed four federal agencies to work together on new standards for ads that food giants run on cartoon shows and other TV programs for children. This intervention was necessary, because the industry’s own voluntary program to push healthy choices for kids was, at best, loosey-goosey. For example, such sugar bombs as Kellogg’s Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes were nutritionally A-OK by industry standards – as was a candy named Yogos, the main ingredient of which is sugar.
So, the agencies came up with nutritional requirements that were at least strict enough to prevent the marketing of candy as a healthy food. Ah, progress! But – oh, mercy – the howl of pain from industry lobbyists was piercing. One shrieked that the new proposal “would virtually end all food advertising as it’s currently carried out to kids.”
Uh… no sir, not all food advertising, just ads for stuff like… well, Yogos.
However, the screams of the food giants – echoed by their congressional puppets – seem to have spooked the agencies. The final proposal has now been delayed, and regulators have retreated to “tweak” it. Note that the main ingredient in the word tweak is “weak.” To help fight for strong nutritional standards that advance our children’s health, contact the Center for Science in the Public Interest: www.cspinet.org.
“Ad Rules Stall, Keeping Cereal a Cartoon Staple,” The New York Times, July 24, 2010.