New FTC Guidelines Take Aim at Children’s Food Pitchmen

posted at 10:40 am on April 29, 2011 by John Sexton

There’s an old saying that when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. The government version is this: When all you have is the ability to regulate, the solution to every problem is more regulation:

Citing an epidemic of childhood obesity, regulators are taking aim at a range of tactics used to market foods high in sugar, fat or salt to children, including the use of cartoon characters like Toucan Sam, the brightly colored Froot Loops pitchman, who appears in television commercials and online games as well as on cereal boxes.

The story goes on to say the regulations are “voluntary” but the food industry sees this as more than a hint:

“There’s clearly a demand hidden behind the velvet glove of the voluntary language,” said Dan Jaffe, an executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, a trade group that represents marketers like Kraft Foods and Campbell Soup.

In case you’re wondering where all this came from, the “intergovernmental panel” looking at food marketed to children was established by a provision in the 2009 budget omnibus. The recommendations the panel has produced are not entirely original (see footnote 10). They are based on a series of similar recommendations from groups including CSPI and WHO.  Whatever the source, the image of the FTC taking on the Keebler elves is, well…magically delicious:

By explicitly tying advertising to childhood obesity, the government is suggesting there is a darker side to cuddly figures like Cap’n Crunch, the Keebler elves, Ronald McDonald and the movie and television characters used to promote food.

It’s perhaps not surprising that the same administration that wants to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant is prepared to treat sugar and salt in much the same manner. If they can replace our light bulbs with something better for us, why not our breakfast cereal?

I do find it a bit hypocritical that they same folks who spent half a billion dollars selling “hope and change” to the youth vote now want to forbid colorful characters used in advertising to children. I’ll grant it’s different if you’ll grant that it’s not all that different:

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It’s not just the fact that they don’t get exercise at home. They don’t get it at school, either.

When I was a kid, we had PE every day of our lives through high school, and recess, as well, every day of our lives in elementary school.

I was shocked that this was not the case with my kids (now in college). They had no P.E. OR recess at all in elementary school; and in middle and high school, only an occasional year of P.E. required.

Alana on April 29, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Exactly.

JannyMae on April 29, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Sadly Cap’n Crunch is no more. Quaker Oats made him walk the plank earlier this year.

simkeith on April 29, 2011 at 10:53 AM

That “report” was not true

JannyMae on April 29, 2011 at 2:08 PM

They want to make the world soggy…

equanimous on April 29, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Remind me again who it is that wants to control people in their very homes?

Left Coast Right Mind on April 29, 2011 at 2:46 PM

I don’t even eat that stuff, but now I want to go buy some.

Snaqwels on April 29, 2011 at 2:47 PM

A great juxtaposition of images.

Dhuka on April 29, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Alana on April 29, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Exactly.

JannyMae on April 29, 2011 at 2:06 PM

When I was a kid in Queens NY and went to P.S. we had to dress out. We had uniforms. We had to play volleyball.

Problems developed in 1975 with the black girls. They would beat your azz if you didn’t wear a bra and if you were white. They would literally kick your azz in front of a locker just because you were white.

That was in NYC and I’m far removed from that venue but it did happen and it was serious enough for our entire family and heritage to pick it up and move it to another place.

Key West Reader on April 29, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Kids can’t play outside because of weirdos, pedophiles, and nutjobs.

As a kid, I could run around the entire neighborhood, and my mom didn’t have to worry. She knew that other moms would step in or call her if there was a problem, and my mom would do the same on our end of the street.

Laura in Maryland on April 29, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Here’s the funny thing.

I just spent 20 minutes in the grocery store yesterday while my husband tried to find a box of cereal that he would enjoy that had less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

We were paying attention to both the amount of sugar per serving and the size of the serving (in grams).

Fruit Loops (a very sugary kids cereal) had 12 grams of sugar per 32 grams of cereal. Yep….bad, sugary kids cereal.

Raisin Bran (that delightfully healthy grown up cereal with nary a cartoon character to be found) had 20 grams of sugar per 50 grams of cereal.

If you make the serving sizes the same, Fruit Loops has 18.75 grams of sugar per 50 gram serving and Raising Bran has 20 grams of sugar per 50 grams of cereal.

Yep, we’d better get those kids to stop eating that unhealthy kids cereal STAT!

JadeNYU on April 29, 2011 at 4:59 PM

The problem isn’t the food, it’s the parents, the gub’ment schools, and personal responsibility. The assault on competition through sports is an issue also. When no one keeps score, kids gravitate to video games where the score is kept. Why compete with a real person when you can play a video game, get all the cheats you want, and become the hero? Guaranteed outcome….the heart and soul of progressive insanity.

csdeven on April 29, 2011 at 5:29 PM

New FTC Guidelines Take Aim at Children’s Food Pitchmen

How is it that they don’t look into the pitchmen for sex (any kind is good; no car-fax needed here)or the eco-worshiop religion, both of which control our government schools and our FCC regulated media.

Don’t bother, I know, we all know the answer….

Don L on April 29, 2011 at 5:57 PM

I wish I had something clever to write but all that went through my head as I thought about the never-ending encroachment into our lives is…

I hate…

Mormon Doc on April 29, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Kids can’t play outside because of weirdos, pedophiles, and nutjobs.

As a kid, I could run around the entire neighborhood, and my mom didn’t have to worry. She knew that other moms would step in or call her if there was a problem, and my mom would do the same on our end of the street.

Laura in Maryland on April 29, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Same here-I grew up in Kailua in Hawai’i in the 1960s, about 2 miles as the crow flies from the current O’bama Winter White House. We could run all over the place, even at night, with no issues.

When I finally went back for a visit 8 years ago, I took a ride by my old street. The sides of the street now bristle with signs warning of No Parking during the hours when the kids are on their way to and from the elementary school a few blocks away. Apparently predatory nuts are now a major problem out there, as if they don’t have enough problems already.

50 years of 1 party rule (Democrat) is what caused their problems. As is evident everywhere else they have been left in charge by their fellow infants.

Del Dolemonte on April 29, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Seeing as youtube has everything else, of course they have plenty of old cereal commercials. Here’s the results just for the Captain.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=captain+crunch+commercials&aq=f

They also have the old Hawaiian Puffa Puffa Rice ad, which is hilarious, as well as Markey Maypo and some of the others. Evidence of a once-proud civilization!

Del Dolemonte on April 29, 2011 at 6:55 PM

By what standard are kids obese? Who’s measuring these kids? Do any of the people reporting these BMI statistics have an agenda? How exactly is BMI being measured on these kids?

Does government have a duty to “mold” a population both mentally and physically the way it sees fit?

HondaV65 on April 29, 2011 at 6:59 PM

By what standard are kids obese? Who’s measuring these kids? Do any of the people reporting these BMI statistics have an agenda? How exactly is BMI being measured on these kids?

Does government have a duty to “mold” a population both mentally and physically the way it sees fit?

HondaV65 on April 29, 2011 at 6:59 PM

This whole obese thing is evil. Some government official or committee comes up with what they consider to be the perfect physical standard of what an American should be and we are all to blindly believe and follow it.
It’s none of their blasted business what my weight is! Whether I’m too skinny or too fat! Whether I exercise or not! It is not their business! It just annoys me how so many people just accept this premise when some government official starts talking about Americans being overweight!
“Oh, we have an epidemic and without a big powerful government to intervene too many people will get sick and die or something.” Well, big powerful government or more of a threat to people dying than a government that is small and weak but where the people are free to eat and live as they please!

Government is the one with the obesity problem. Our bureaucracies are all fat and bloated! They’re the ones who need the freaking diet!

JellyToast on April 29, 2011 at 8:48 PM

What happened to Alpha Bits? I can’t find ‘em anywhere! :(

tbear44 on April 30, 2011 at 5:00 AM

If you don’t want sugar in your cereal, then do not buy it & eat oatmeal, farina, etc as your cereal.
I know sometimes there is too much sugar in some products, as well as sodium.
But the reason those things are used in the 1st place is that they are preservatives & that stuff wouldn’t last for 100 years it does.

Badger40 on April 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM

I would love to know who the great minds are that make up this “panel”. Probably would be very revealing……….

ultracon on April 30, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Doesn’t Kool-Aid have a lot of sugar? Maybe folks should stop drinking the government flavor.

I haven’t eaten sugary cereal for breakfast in years. It is time I started again. Let’s all run to the grocer and buy a box, just to spite Michelle Antoinette.

Philly on April 30, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Maybe nobody ever played with odumbo.

ultracon on April 30, 2011 at 10:14 AM

This school year, my kids actually have 90 minutes of PE/week as homework. They were given a log sheet wherein they had to write down what they did for exercise and have the parents sign it and submitted to their homeroom teacher every Friday. This was the result of some new law that the Iowa legislature passed last Summer.

I don’t know what happened overall as far as in effect, since I haven’t seen the logs after about the 4th week. When I first say this, I thot of how nutty this was.

What I did with ours was that I signed each one and stated “exercise and play outside for minimum of 10 hours per week”. I didn’t bother itemizing each activity each day. Like I stated, after about the 4th week, I never saw the logs again. Don’t know if the admin figured no sense bothering me or if overall response rate was so dismal, the schools just quit trying to collect them. In any case the kids still get A or Bs on each report card.

I also know that the local schools also do BMI testing – another insult to parents by the then Donk nanny-state. But since my kids were/are normal, I never received notice from the schools. I can only imagine if fat kids get continued monitoring or what.

AH_C on April 30, 2011 at 11:31 AM

We need to get the government OUT of measuring “BMI”: it’s really none of the government’s business…especially if you believe that the government is supposed to work FOR its citizens.

Instead, we need to have GMI (Government Mass Index) monitored and widely published as frequently as possible in order to get government down to a reasonable size.

landlines on April 30, 2011 at 12:08 PM

When I was a kid, I simply wasn’t allowed sugary cereals. My favorite wound up being Cheerios. I also wasn’t allowed sodas, only juice and milk. Soda was an extra special treat. My folks thought that I would wind up with an obesity problem as I was a very chubby kid up til around 6 years old. I wound up as a beanpole, and even at 41 I only sport a very minor spare tire (need to start walking!). It’s the responsibility of parents to regulate their kids’ diets. Cap’n Krunch and Toucan Sam were on when I was a tyke, my folks just said “NO” when I asked for their cereals. What a concept…NO.

quikstrike98 on April 30, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Aw, hell. It’s bad enough that the federal Gummint regulates our everyt waking moment. Now the Gummint’s gonna be a cereal killer.

November 2012 can’t come soon enough, where we demote Mr Obama and the rest of his corrupt cronies from Keebler Elves down to fudge packers.

CatchAll on April 30, 2011 at 11:17 PM

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