US Child Obesity Debate Heats Up

20 June 2005

Increasing concern about the obesity epidemic among American children is drawing food advertisers further into the line of fire.

The latest salvo, launched by consumer group the Center for Informed Food Choices, attacks food industry self-regulation as "a 30-year experiment that has utterly failed".

The CIFC's comments are a precursor to a Federal Trade Commission convention next month to debate the role of the industry in the obesity issue.

The Public Health Advocacy Institute has suggested the biggest self-regulatory body for ads aimed at children, the Children's Advertising Review Unit, does not publicize itself enough or go far enough in reviewing ads.

The manufacturers and marketers have defended their position, highlighting their 'successes' in self regulation and questioning the whole notion that food advertising equals fat kids.

Counters manufacturer General Mills, whose brands include Cheerios, Yoplait and Häagen Dazs: "Product improvement and marketing initiatives can have demonstrably beneficial impacts on health and nutrition."

FTC chairman Deborah Majoras has said she hopes to encourage conference participants to offer relevant programs, but does not see the FTC taking action to impose restrictions.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff