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Prevention Institute

July 5, 2011

Protect Kids from Junk Food Marketing: Your support is needed today

We're outraged. Federal guidelines that would help limit junk food marketing to kids are under attack by big food companies, and we need your help today. Parents shouldn't have to play defense in a world designed to make their kids consume unhealthy food, just so companies can make bigger profits. But we need to speak up today in support of the proposed standards or they might be dropped.

Click here to send a letter to the Interagency Working Group and let them know that you support strong nutrition standards for foods marketed to kids.

Federal guidelines released last April will, if companies follow them, ensure that foods marketed to kids contain real food ingredients including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; while limiting harmful nutrients such as sodium, added sugars and saturated fats. Though voluntary, these guidelines are an important step towards protecting kids from junk food marketing.

But Industry has been working overtime to de-rail the guidelines, making shameful claims in their attempts to stop even voluntary recommendations. Scott Faber of the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association commented, "Compliance with the standards in the proposed principles will require manufacturers to remove cherished animals, characters, and sports heroes from our packaging and dramatically reduce our support for community events and organizations such as local museums and even Little League." At a Chamber of Commerce discussion last week, law professor Martin Redish stated, "Industry's rights are being violated here, but there's something deeper and darker that's going on: The government is treating us like sheep."

They couldn’t be more wrong. From “cherished animals” created to manipulate, to sponsorships and advertising in schools, the current system of food marketing is unrelenting, and puts all the responsibility on parents to protect their kids. It’s simply not fair. When food marketers have access to children in schools, in stores, on television, and increasingly on the internet, parents have the odds stacked against them. The proposed standards will help shift the balance in the right direction.

The IWG needs to know that they have our support, as public health professionals, as academics, as concerned parents. The food industry has millions of dollars to spend on defeating these guidelines, and without all of our voices, they might succeed.

Parents can't do it alone. Send your comments today to tell the IWG we need strong standards and they cannot bow in the face of industry pressure. Comments must be submitted by July 13th.

Copy and paste the letter below, and post it into the IWG's submission form, here. (We encourage you to tailor it and incorporate your perspective as a health professional, parent, and/or community member.)

Dear Secretary Vilsack, Chairman Leibowitz, Director Frieden, and Commissioner Hamburg:

Thank you for your efforts through the Interagency Working Group (IWG) to reduce unhealthy food marketing to children. I am in strong support of uniform food marketing standards that will prioritize children's health, support parents, and catalyze industry to take greater responsibility for marketing strategies.
As a health professional working every day on the front lines of preventing illness, I am all too familiar with the toll that day-in and day-out marketing of unhealthful food has on children and families across the country. While the food and beverage industry pursues bigger profits, parents are expected to play defense in a world where food marketers have access to children in schools, in stores, on television, and online -- a world designed to make their kids consume junk food.

Parents can't do it all alone. Industry says they want to be part of the solution and these guidelines will help them do it. Strong standards on foods marketed to kids will shift the balance in the right direction--towards the health of children and families.

I agree with IWG's requirement that foods marketed to children contain real-food ingredients like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while limiting harmful nutrients such as sodium, added sugar and saturated fat. I also strongly support the IWG's comprehensive view of marketing to children, covering the wide range of approaches companies use, including online and digital mechanisms.

I thank the IWG for its strong nutrition and marketing guidelines, and urge you to finalize them by the end of the year. The health of America's children hangs in the balance, and I urge you not to bow to industry pressure when the stakes are so high.


Thank you for speaking out.

Pediatricians support regulation of marketing to kids

In a policy statement published in the July issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate junk food and fast food ads on cell phones and other media.

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