Government aims to quell marketing of junk food to kids

New recommendations tell the food industry to stop marketing junk food directly to children.

ARLINGTON, Va April 29, 2011 – Parents who try to feed their children healthy food may have cause for relief when toting their tots to the grocery store: less junk food marketed directly to children.

If the food industry decides to follow new governmental recommendations, any food marketed to children under the age of 17 will have to meet at least a few criteria of healthfulness.

Food marketed toward children will need to meet minimum nutritional standards.

Food marketed toward children will need to meet minimum nutritional standards.

A working group with representatives from the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture received direction from Congress to come up with recommendations, which they released yesterday.

Among the “proposed voluntary” recommendations are two principles for foods marketed directly to children aged 2-17.

Principle A indicates that food must contain at one ingredient that makes a “meaningful contribution to a healthy diet.” The list of “thumbs-up” options includes: fruit, vegetable, whole grain, low-fat or fat-free milk product, extra lean meat or poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, or beans.

Clearly the word hasn’t gotten out to this group that full-fat dairy is a whole food, while reduced fat is not. When we eat full-fat foods, instead of processed foods, we feel more satisfied and eat less.

Principle B targets minimizing “the content of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight.” On this list: saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars, and sodium.

Again, a traditional foods perspective would point out that fats are not all created equal, nor are salts. Naturally-occurring whole-food fats like butter, lard, and coconut oil are beneficial for children’s bodies and brains, and real sea salt contains vital minerals. As the Weston A. Price Foundation has pointed out in its criticism of USDA dietary guidelines, the idea that fat and salt are just simply bad is a myth.

We run into problems when we substitute healthy fats and mineral-rich sea salt for industrialized, factory-made fats like canola oil and refined salts. These substances are not real food once they have been stripped of their nutritional value, or are heated and processed in such a way that they have become unrecognizable to our bodies.

This anti-marketing initiative is, however, at least creating awareness, which is usually a good thing.

When an industry spends over $1.5 million a year trying to get kids to clamor for a certain cereal or snack, it might be hard to believe that it will undertake these “voluntary efforts.” But, with everyone talking about the childhood obesity epidemic, companies may just comply to look like they are doing their part, even if they keep producing food laden with sugar, dyes and chemicals — simply sans the snazzy characters to shill them.

Related links:

FTC Guidance Documents with research and background

Working group report

 

Jessica Claire Haney is a freelance writer, editor and tutor. Her writing has appeared in parenting publications and poetry journals. A former high school English teacher, Jessica is mother to a five-year-old son and a baby girl. She is passionate about holistic health and well-being and is a leader of a chapter of Holistic Moms Network.

Jessica’s blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama, crunchychewymama.com, and her writer’s site is jessicaclairehaney.com.

“Like” Crunchy-Chewy Mama on Facebook, and follow Jessica on Twitter @crunchychewy

 

-cl- 4/29/11

 

 

 

 


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Jessica Claire Haney

 

This holistic mom dreams of a day when all kids -- and adults -- eat foods with only recognizable ingredients. Paying attention is not an option for me; it's a necessity.

A few years ago, my body started breaking down and let me know I wasn’t like all those other Jessicas who were still in their twenties. I began making the rounds of alternative health practitioners and nutritionists to deal with stomach problems, thyroid problems, chronic grumpiness, and infertility, issues that my doctors weren't addressing with any success. With a lot of help and a bunch of lifestyle changes, I managed to work my way back to healthy and happy. And pregnant!

Now a full-on convert to natural family living and a mom to a three-year-old, I’m on a mission to share my insights -- and my persistent questions -- about nutrition and holistic health with other moms and with anyone else looking for something that will work and feel good when other stuff doesn’t. As a leader of a local chapter of Holistic Moms Network, I've tried to build a community that supports other parents in making healthy decisions for their families.

My writing has appeared in parenting publications and poetry journals. I blog about life on the alternative/mainstream divide at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, and I'm a contributor for DC Metro Moms.

Contact Jessica Claire Haney

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