Do you want to stop childhood obesity? Over the past year or so I have been trying to learn about food companies in the U.S. and I was shocked to learn of all the colors and flavors our food contains. Food Companies in the United States spend billions on advertising targeting children – $1.6 billion in 2006 alone – and now they’re objecting to voluntary government guidelines for marketing food to children. Here is a recap of a recent Environmental Working Group newsletter urging us all to help stop childhood obesity.
Major food companies are lobbying the government to withdraw the guidelines completely and instead use the industry’s own definition of “responsible advertising.” The message couldn’t be clearer: they don’t care if their products hurt kids. They care about the bottom line. So we joined forces with the Center for Science in the Public Interest to take on the food industry and tell its chief executive officers to stop the attacks and start helping our children. We need you to stand with us today to make sure they get the message loud and clear.
Because of the alarming rates of childhood obesity, in 2009, Congress instructed the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and Department of Agriculture to form an Interagency Working Group to look into child-targeted advertising and recommend standards for marketing food to children under 18.
When the Working Group published its draft, voluntary guidelines in April, it suggested that food companies adopt two voluntary principles, not legally enforceable by any regulatory agency, that food advertised to children should: make
- “a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet” by containing a significant amount of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, extra lean meat or poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, or beans.
- have only “minimal quantities of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health and weight,” such as sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugars.
These commonsense recommendations would encourage children to adopt healthy eating habits. But the goal for big food interests is an even fatter bottom line, so they’re lobbying the government and calling on the Working Group to throw out its voluntary proposal and use the industry’s own guidelines for responsible advertising.
EWG is taking on the food industry and they want us all to join them – companies need to hear from their customers. Click here right away to tell the CEOs of 13 large manufacturers to market healthier food to children, not lobby the government. Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to using the power of information to protect human health and the environment.