Obama administration: We need to control marketing of children’s food

posted at 2:55 pm on May 11, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

As any parent knows, there are a lot of unhealthy food choices in the market for children — and adults, for that matter.  TV marketing usually emphasizes the most sugary, fatty choices to families; watch Saturday morning television if anyone without kids doubts it.  Schools routinely offer some of the worst possible choices to students at all levels, mainly in an attempt to raise revenues.  Which of these problems should become the purview of the federal government?  President Obama says all of them:

A White House report warns, “The childhood obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis.”

The review by the Task Force on Childhood Obesity says one out of every three children is overweight or obese. The task force is a key part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to solve the problem of obesity within a generation. President Obama ordered the comprehensive review of the issue.

First the crisis, and then the intervention:

The task force wants junk food makers and marketers to go on what amounts to an advertising diet. It says media characters that are often popular with kids should only be used to promote healthy products. If voluntary efforts fail to limit marketing of less healthy products to young viewers, the task force suggests the FCC should consider new rules on commercials in children’s programming. It also challenges food retailers to stop using in-store displays to sell unhealthy food items to children.

The advisory panel proposes better food content labeling on products and vending machines. Restaurants and vending machine companies are urged to display calorie counts. The experts say the FDA and USDA should cooperate with the food and beverage industries to develop a standard system of nutrition labeling on the front of packages. The study also suggests that restaurants should re-evaluate portion sizes, improve kids’ menus and list more healthy food choices.

The White House study says school systems should consider efforts to promote healthier food in cafeterias. One idea: “swap deep fryers for salad bars.”

Left unstated is whether the federal government will go as far as Santa Clara County, CA in banning Happy Meals, but that’s the direction in which the White House clearly wants to move.  They want to use whatever power they have to limit choices to children and adults, and interpose themselves in place of parents.  It comes as part of the same effort that led Congress to include a federal menu mandate in ObamaCare that will put small restaurant chains at a serious disadvantage to larger operations.  It puts the nanny in nanny-state government.

If the federal government wants to do anything, it should limit itself to the schools.  Cafeteria choices are limited and mostly lousy, and vending machines offer the worst alternatives to kids locked into facilities for hours on end.  Parents would do better to pack lunches and snacks, but they certainly can demand an end to high-sugar, high-fat foods on campus.  We don’t need the federal government’s involvement to do that, but since they’re already involved in what should be local decisions on education, they at least have the entree to apply pressure in the right direction.

The effort to press restaurants into “re-evaluating” portion sizes sounds voluntary, at least for the moment, but the FCC and FDA involvement does not.  The federal government has no business telling private enterprises what kind of mascots to use in advertising or restricting their ability to advertise a legal product.  Unfortunately, we have precedent with the tobacco and liquor industries, and doubtless nanny-staters will rely on that precedent.  The only problem with that argument is that Captain Crunch isn’t Joe Camel, and sugary cereals aren’t addictive.  They may be bad choices for habitual eating, but the federal government doesn’t exist to save us from a few bad choices.  If that becomes their mission, then we will have few choices left to ourselves at all, and we can stop pretending to be a free people and admit that we have made ourselves wards of the nanny-state.

When ObamaCare came up for debate, we warned that government control of health care would provide leverage for massive oversight on personal choices.  This is exactly what we can expect — with the rationalization that we end up paying for the health care costs associated with poor choices.  The proper approach would be to make everyone responsible for their own health-care costs and let that act to limit choices instead.  We need a healthy dose of Mind Your Own Business in government policy these days.

What do you think the proper level of government involvement should be?  Take the poll:


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How about if BO just focuses on Uncle Sam’s obesity problem.

ronsfi on May 11, 2010 at 7:50 PM

When I was a kid, going to McDonalds was a treat. What’s wrong with a burger and fries once in a while? I eat tons of fat, sugar etc and I’M NOT FAT. It’s genetic its not the tvc commercials. This administration is insane.

Urban Infidel on May 11, 2010 at 7:51 PM

Oops! I meant tv commercials.

Urban Infidel on May 11, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Two animals

Cow and mountain lion

one walks around all day eating carbs and gets fat even though it expands alot of energy walking and standing

The other eats up to 5-12pds of meat a day and doesn’t.

Just saying look at nature the animals that eat mostly meat will by and large be the skinny ones those that base their diet on mostly on carbs tends to get plump.

The government want sus to eat like cows not mountain lions and then they wonder why we get fat like cows. We are ruled by idiots

unseen on May 11, 2010 at 7:54 PM

How about if BO just focuses on Uncle Sam’s obesity problem.

ronsfi on May 11, 2010 at 7:50 PM

I 2nd that

Colorado Anne on May 11, 2010 at 7:56 PM

Toys in Happy Meals – illegal
Marijuana – legal (close enough anyways)

No wonder I left California. Now if only the government would LEAVE ME ALONE!!! I can choose what to eat, where to eat it, what to watch on TV, what to see on the internet, what books to read, where and how to educate my child and on and on and on.

I’m getting pretty sick and tired of all the Gov’t “help”.

kringeesmom on May 11, 2010 at 7:58 PM

Happy meals can lead to obesity? Maybe.

Sodomy can spread AIDS? Yes.

Which is this administration going after?

Akzed on May 11, 2010 at 7:31 PM

So, are you saying the government shouldn’t go after fattening food and should attack people’s sex lives?

or

Are you saying it should go after both?

Also, you do know sodomy isn’t the only sexual act that people can get aids from. Sometimes, people do even have to have sex with an infected person to get AIDS.

BeLinda on May 11, 2010 at 8:03 PM

I think I’m with Ace on this.

There are a lot of other things to get my panties in a bunch over instead of adopting a maximalist libertarian position demanding that Ronald McDonald be allowed to pester my kids to pester me for Happy Meals.

Dukeboy01 on May 11, 2010 at 8:04 PM

If the federal government wants to do anything, it should limit itself to the schools. Cafeteria choices are limited and mostly lousy, and vending machines offer the worst alternatives to kids locked into facilities for hours on end.

This may work at the elementary and middle school levels, but high school kids will just leave campus for lunch, they already do. Many of the students at my kids’ high school walk across the street to Walgreens, Dairy Queen, Chipolte, and Arby’s for lunch. If they do buy the school’s lunch, they frequently eat just the parts they want to and toss the rest.

You can’t force a particular diet on anyone if they don’t want it. It’s like that quote from Jurassic Park “Life will find a way”. Well, people will find a way to junk food.

Note to junk food addicts: just make it yourself, you don’t have to buy it from a store.

Common Sense on May 11, 2010 at 8:06 PM

This may work at the elementary and middle school levels, but high school kids will just leave campus for lunch, they already do.

True. And that, IMHO, needs to stop. “Because I want my McDonald’s” is not a valid reason for leaving campus.

If they do buy the school’s lunch, they frequently eat just the parts they want to and toss the rest.

Doesn’t have to be that way. At my old private school, two hawkeyed lunch ladies (at minimum) monitored students at lunchtime, and you ate EVERYTHING on your plate unless you were short a few braincells.

Dark-Star on May 11, 2010 at 8:13 PM

I think I’m with Ace on this.

There are a lot of other things to get my panties in a bunch over instead of adopting a maximalist libertarian position demanding that Ronald McDonald be allowed to pester my kids to pester me for Happy Meals.

Dukeboy01 on May 11, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Funny, I’m not conflicted at all. The government has no right to seize speech or private property. This is about private property and free speech. If McDonald’s wants to put out commercials to kids about happy meals and a TV studio wants to make those commercials and I want to see them, what freaking right does Obama have to step in and say “You can’t do that- I will decide what commercials McDonalds can make, who they can make them to and what I can see.”

We are getting desensitized to government control. A little here, a lot there, more here and there and now some of us are debating the merits of diet. What a freaking joke.

JellyToast on May 11, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Dukeboy01 on May 11, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Ace is a complete idiot on this among other things. It is not the government’s job.

unseen on May 11, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Our constitution is meaningless. It has become just a piece of paper sitting in a vault somewhere. We have just been told that government wants to regulate still more speech and control over private, legal, business transactions involving food commercials. And what is everyone discussing? Obesity.

If this group represents average America, it’s over.

JellyToast on May 11, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Left unstated is whether the federal government will go as far as Santa Clara County, CA in banning Happy Meals, but that’s the direction in which the White House clearly wants to move.

.
Of course it is.
And all because of that one time Obama’s Happy Meal
did not have the prize in it.
He’s never forgotten or forgiven this,
and vowed to one day make them all pay.

mrt721 on May 11, 2010 at 8:33 PM

We are getting desensitized to government control. A little here, a lot there, more here and there and now some of us are debating the merits of diet. What a freaking joke.

JellyToast on May 11, 2010 at 8:21 PM

I’m with you 100% on this. People that start any conversation with there ought to be a law against that….need to be taken outside and shot.

unseen on May 11, 2010 at 8:38 PM

He’s never forgotten or forgiven this,
and vowed to one day make them all pay.

mrt721 on May 11, 2010 at 8:33 PM

I know you are joking but it is the truth. The nerds in high school have never forgiven the popular kids and now all the nerds are in government telling us all what to do, what to eat, how long to exercise,

Call the obama admin the Revenge of the Nerds

unseen on May 11, 2010 at 8:40 PM

And another thing, I wasn’t happy when McDonalds stopped deep frying their apple pies and changing the oil in the french fries. It’s just not the same. I really don’t eat there anymore but I would definitely go for one of those fried apple pies.. mmmmm..boy, those were good.

Urban Infidel on May 11, 2010 at 8:49 PM

and here I am enjoying 2 McDonald’s cheeseburgers and a ten piece nugget.

FontanaConservative on May 11, 2010 at 8:52 PM

Hey. Where did my comment go?

Democrats take away candy from children yet say “it’s cheaper to offer drug treatment for teens than to stop the flow of drugs across the border” – Pelosi 5.6.10

TN Mom on May 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Democrats take away candy from children yet say “it’s cheaper to offer drug treatment for teens than to stop the flow of drugs across the border” – Pelosi 5.6.10

TN Mom on May 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Mmmkay…I’m just going to say that nothing short of every derogatory, obscene, and insulting word in the English language would be a sufficient reply.

Dark-Star on May 11, 2010 at 9:02 PM

Dark-Star on May 11, 2010 at 9:02 PM

Knock yourself out.

TN Mom on May 11, 2010 at 9:08 PM

When I was young (not all that long ago), there might have been one fat kid in class. We didn’t have time to get fat. We had chores, and kick-the-can, and kickball, and street hockey, and swimming, and just plain running around. We ate junk by the ton and it didn’t matter one iota.

Eat whatever you want, but get off your butt.

And quit doing everything for your kids. Get THEM off their butts.

Maybe then we wouldn’t have the ADHD epidemic either.

tcn on May 11, 2010 at 9:11 PM

Sorry if this has been covered, I didn’t read all the comments. But I remember JFK had some fitness challenge program and it was meant to inspire, not impose. Of course, he wasn’t an insecure little dictator like Ogabe wants to be.

califcon on May 11, 2010 at 9:16 PM

I’m getting pretty sick and tired of all the Gov’t “help”.

kringeesmom on May 11, 2010 at 7:58 PM

Oberkellner Obama!

Johan Klaus on May 11, 2010 at 9:23 PM

I wish the Obamas would show more concern over more serious problems American youth are facing like:
50% Dropout rate in some school districts.
Gang violence.
Teen pregnancy.
Bleak employment prospects even for those who manage to graduate.

kooly on May 11, 2010 at 9:26 PM

I think that MO needs to mind her own bid-ness. If ya know what I mean.

Key West Reader on May 11, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Sorry if this has been covered, I didn’t read all the comments. But I remember JFK had some fitness challenge program and it was meant to inspire, not impose. Of course, he wasn’t an insecure little dictator like Ogabe wants to be.

califcon on May 11, 2010 at 9:16 PM

It was called the President’s Fitness Challenge. It was designed to encourage physical fitness and participation in sports. MO is recycling old ideas, but while she sports a large badonkadonk she is being a hypocrite. Imagine that.

I think MO needs to make BO quit smoking by putting her boot (and that’s a really BIG boot) on his neck. After he quits smoking, drinking, lecturing and bankrupting then these two klowns can lecture American Parents on how to raise our own.

Key West Reader on May 11, 2010 at 9:32 PM

and here I am enjoying 2 McDonald’s cheeseburgers and a ten piece nugget.

FontanaConservative on May 11, 2010 at 8:52 PM

Did you buy them at the restaurant on Sierra Avenue just north of I-10?

FYI, when I was a kid, my parents used to take us to the ORIGINAL McDonald’s restaurant on E Street in ‘Berdoo…

Khun Joe on May 11, 2010 at 9:40 PM

sicoit on May 11, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Here’s how I remember it:

systolic/dystolic
d = devil
devil down below
dystolic more evil
dystolic = is always smaller number

Blake on May 11, 2010 at 9:45 PM

We are getting desensitized to government control. A little here, a lot there, more here and there and now some of us are debating the merits of diet. What a freaking joke.

JellyToast on May 11, 2010 at 8:21 PM

I’m with you 100% on this. People that start any conversation with there ought to be a law against that….need to be taken outside and shot.

unseen on May 11, 2010 at 8:38 PM

These!
and my list of those who need to be taken out back and shot is growing.
(for purposes of those who are taking this literally, it is intended only as a figure of speech)

Willie on May 11, 2010 at 10:10 PM

What is it with this White House? I wonder if they really have a clue. Food Marketing to children? Give me a break! What child has to ability and the money to get to McDonalds and buy themselves a Happy Meal? If their lazy parents don’t feel like giving them something healthy at home, it’s not McDonalds fault.

Is there no one, in this “free press” of ours who’s willing to ask this White House the pertinent questions about anything? Of course not, it’s suck up all the time.

bflat879 on May 11, 2010 at 10:14 PM

I hope everyone now understands that BHO wants to control everything, what we hear, what we see, what we read, what we say, and even what we eat. He is hell bent on controlling the content of talk radio, TV, the internet, our food, and ultimately, controlling what we think. His justification is that we are just too dumb to be left alone. We might put an eye out, vote for a Conservative, or go to a Tea Party rally.

Pelayo on May 11, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Ok, start with restricting these purchases using government ebt cards and prepackaged crap on WIC. See how that goes….

Caper29 on May 11, 2010 at 10:29 PM

McDonald’s should change their Happy Meal toys to little dolls/cars with Anti-Obama slogans on them. Or, they could just put MYOB on the toys. I predict they’ll sell even better than the Beanie Babies did!

redwhiteblue on May 12, 2010 at 12:04 AM

It’s Libtard thinking to believe that if you offer kids arugula and watercress salads and organically grown okra and egg plant stuffed with baked rutabagas that they’ll actually eat that stuff rather than go hungry.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 12, 2010 at 12:14 AM

It’s all part of the grand scheme of Obamunism; CONTROL EVERYTHING! You’ll see.

Cybergeezer on May 12, 2010 at 8:22 AM

I don’t mind the government moving to improve nutritional quality of school lunches, so long as parent-packed school lunches come under no such scrutiny.

I do not want any school system dictating the contents of lunch. They needn’t act in place of the parent on that count because the parent controls it.

SarahW on May 12, 2010 at 9:35 AM

I don’t mind the government moving to improve nutritional quality of school lunches, so long as parent-packed school lunches come under no such scrutiny.

I do not want any school system dictating the contents of lunch brought from home. They needn’t act in place of the parent on that count because the parent controls it.

SarahW on May 12, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Sugar is very addictive. Try NOT to eat it and you will get sugar cravings. It inflames my Chrohns disease. You might want to check out this movie.

http://www.fathead-movie.com/

its self funded and he’s very libertarian. Its sort of the opposite of SuperSize Me.

womball on May 12, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Where does it end? Our school district tried to ban peanut butter sandwiches at school because more and more kids have peanut allergy. I understand the severity of the allergy but an outright ban was uncalled for.

Yesterday the news reported about a student in TX, who received one week detention for having a Jolly Rancher candy at the lunch table. Since when did candy become such deadly contraband?

They can try to force kids to eat what experts consider healthy foods but kids will find ways around it. When I was in elementary school we’d drink our milk and then stuff the carton full of the foods we didn’t like. We were then allowed to leave and although still hungry, preferred that to eating food we hated.

Parents need to parent their children and help them learn to make better choices. There’s nothing wrong with Happy Meals as long as they are not the only source of nutritition.

GrannySunni on May 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Yesterday the news reported about a student in TX, who received one week detention for having a Jolly Rancher candy at the lunch table. Since when did candy become such deadly contraband?

GrannySunni on May 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM

I would be in prison if I were in school now. Back in the 70′s when I was in high school, I sold candy to others as my school bus picked me up at the 7/11 store.

As for school lunches, they should eat (or rather not eat) what they served at my school. The food was so bad, I can’t recall ever seeing an over weight child.

moonsbreath on May 12, 2010 at 12:04 PM

“The childhood obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis.”

Ah, a crisis.

It’s funny, I just had lunch with my daughter at her school and I saw maybe 2-3 kids out of 100 or more who were a little overweight.

It’s pretty much the same everywhere I go. Where exactly is this epidemic?

Maybe if they weren’t so worried about banning dodge ball and taking the competition out of competitive sports, kids would have a reason to stay more fit all on their own?

reaganaut on May 12, 2010 at 2:34 PM

Abolish the Education Department and give control back to the hands of the state.

Enoxo on May 11, 2010 at 2:58 PM

How bout go even further & give the control back to the county.

Badger40 on May 12, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Independent School Districts are local and as such make the local choice to conform to state and federal standards.

maverick muse on May 11, 2010 at 3:42 PM

They cease being very ‘Independant’ when they agree to accept federal $$$.
Take for instance the Wellness program.
We have it in our school.
I don’t know how much $$ we get in fed $$ for it, but the ‘rules’ were set up so that the pop machine doesn’t dispense soda until after 1pm & we now cannot sell candy during school hours.
We were also told as staff we cannot drink pop or coffee in the building.
Course that isn’t enforced.
Title I $$ also takes away local control.
Schools aren’t really independent anymore bcs they take federal govt whore $$.
No Child Left Behind can be scrapped by every school in the country if they quit accepting federal money.

Badger40 on May 12, 2010 at 5:19 PM

‘Independant’

Independent.
The typo Nazis would be after me insulting my intelligence & dismissing my arguments ,I guess, if I didn’t post the correction.

Badger40 on May 12, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Its CARBS that are the problem. So yes, high-sugar is bad but fats are not. You can eat all the steak you want. This knowledge will take a decade or so to seep into the mainstream cos of the vested interests and regulatory collusion and/or inertia.

But I advise you to look into it.

flawedskull on May 11, 2010 at 3:57 PM

You totally rock. This cattle producers thanks you loads for spreading this true message.
Check out Gary Taubes’ work into the pseudo-science of ‘diet’.
The medical & diet community has been propagating a scientific fraud.
Their work cannot withstand sicentific scrutiny, but you are right, it’s going to take decades for people to get this through their heads.
MEAT IS GOOD FOR YOU.
The proteins in meat are NEEDED for good human health.
We are omnivores. We cannot be truly healthy on veggies alone.
What makes some meat bad is corn fed critters & all the fat they get from it.
Some fat is good, but those of us who have been eating our own grass-fed beef are just FINE.

Badger40 on May 12, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Good Carbs Bad Carbs is an excellent book. You can find Gary’s lectures on google videos and one on berkley website.

I really doubt that they will start pushing a lower carb/paleo/zero carb diet anytime soon though.

womball on May 12, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Nobody forces you to eat at mcdonalds either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9RWynSw5U8&feature=player_embedded

womball on May 12, 2010 at 6:07 PM

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