Solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation

In 2010, the FCC joined the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity and released a report to the President, entitled “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation.” The Commission worked closely with the FTC, the FDA and HHS in the food marketing section of the report.
Here are some of the report recommendations on how changes in food marketing can decrease childhood obesity:
  • All media and entertainment companies should limit the licensing of their popular characters to food and beverages that are healthy and consistent with nutrition standards.
  • The food and entertainment industries should jointly adopt meaningful, uniform nutrition standards for marketing food and beverages to children, as well as a uniform standard for what constitutes marketing to children.
  • Industry should provide technology to help consumers distinguish between advertisements for healthy and unhealthy foods and to limit their children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertisements.
  • If voluntary efforts to limit the marketing of unhealthy foods to children do not help, the FCC should consider revisiting and modernizing rules on commercial time permitted during children’s programming.

Gee, FCC, thanks for joining the President and getting on the bandwagon. Hope you got a trip to the oval office, complete with an autographed photo and a handshake out of this nonsense.

This report is a pie in the sky. A company like Disney-which licenses its characters for unhealthy food, is beholden to its shareholders. Every company is beholden to shareholders. All the cereal companies, for example, have fought for market share for years and years. Anyone who expects them to give up this hard-fought advantage is naive and does not understand business.

The second point, that the food and entertainment industries should adopt voluntary standards, reminds me of the voluntary standards about children’s cartoons. A few decades ago, the FCC started to require that children’s cartoons have some educational message. So the cartoon companies complied-they didn’t change the cartoons one bit, they just made up all sort of explanations on why the cartoon was educational.

The FCC, along with the FAA, is probably the worst-run of the important government agencies. The chances of anything useful coming out of this breathtakingly stupid report at zero. In the meantime, our children continue to gobble down sugar by the pound.

Why wait a generation to get rid of childhood obesity? Why not do something serious about it right now? If the government just banned all unhealthy foods, then childhood obesity would immediately drop. Do we really need potato chips anyway? Do we really need Cheetos? Pringles? Doritos? Cheez Doodles? Oreo’s? Doublestuffed chocolate cookies? We don’t have to ban these foods-just tax all unhealthy foods like you tax cigarettes. If people really want to eat potato chips, let them buy a potato, peel it, slice it, heat up some oil, and fry them.

What do you think? How can we solve the problem of childhood obesity?

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