The IWG report emphasizes: “The proposed recommendations are … designed to encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet … and minimize consumption of foods with significant amounts of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight – specifically, sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars.” In a foreboding tone, the IWG warns all food products marketed to kids should meet these guidelines by 2016.
What’s ridiculous is that the federal government puts all the blame for America’s swelling childhood obesity rate on the back of the food and beverage industry and kills jobs in the process. Food ads aren’t making kids overweight. There are many contributing factors to obesity, such as lack of exercise, consuming too much fast-food and lack of access to healthy and affordable foods in lower-income and rural communities. To wit, First Lady Michelle Obama
Furthermore, numerous studies show food ads marketed to kids don’t cause childhood obesity. For example, research by Georgetown Economic Services, LLC (GES) found food and beverage ads to kids dropped 50% from 2004-2010 while childhood obesity rates climbed. Previous analysis by GES found TV food and restaurant ads viewed by kids age 2-11 declined from 1993-2004 and concluded “these results cast doubt . . . on the correlations between the volume of commercials and the trend in childhood obesity.”
Even more preposterous, the IWG proclaims, “The proposed principles are voluntary and do not call for government regulation of food marketing.” Still, when four government agencies, who regulate the food industry, ask that industry to do something voluntarily and comply by a specific deadline, it is nothing more than a back door way to issue mandatory regulations over the industry and escape judicial review.
The food industry is already policing itself. Recently, several major food companies came together to announce their own guidelines for marketing healthy food to children. They are moderate, reasonable and still accomplish healthy goals. Responding to demand, companies are continually evaluating ingredients they use in foods not only marketed to kids but adults as well. For example, most cereals today are made with whole grains and fortified with vitamins and minerals. Many juices and dairy products are likewise fortified with vitamins, minerals and supplements. How do companies inform us about these innovations? Through that marketing the IWG seeks to villanize.