Limiting Food Marketing to Kids Could Do Harm
Letters to the Editor: USA Today
Opposing view writer Josh Golin definitively states: “Food marketing plays a significant role in the childhood obesity epidemic. … More than 100 studies confirm that it works.” One must ask to which studies is Golin referring? There is no correlative evidence between marketing trends and obesity rates among children and adolescents in the United States (“Opposing view: Ban food marketing to kids“).
When confronted with the Institute of Medicine study finding that a “causal relationship” between advertising and childhood obesity has not been established, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — one of the agencies that crafted the proposed food marketing guidelines at issue — clearly stated that the evidence is “admittedly circumstantial”during a congressional hearing this month.
Golin then ups the ante, challenging lawmakers to consider banning all marketing of foods to kids if they really care about children’s health. Here’s the glitch: Doing so could actually make the obesity epidemic worse by limiting information that parents and nutritionists can access to make the best food choices for their families. It also assumes that parents aren’t capable of saying “no.”
A better solution would involve encouraging increased physical activity; making healthy, affordable foods available in low-income, rural and underserved communities; and encouraging more public-private ventures such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.
Michelle Bernard, CEO & founder; Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy; Washington, D.C.