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Congress Again Puts Food Industry Ahead of Children

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan

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First Congress declares pizza a vegetable; now it defends companies’ ability to market Froot Loops as healthy for children. This Congress has quite the nutrition track record. Too bad kids don’t have their own PAC, or $37 million in lobbying clout.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, HR 3671, includes a provision that would require the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of its final recommendations for food marketing to children (it already has put the recommendations out for public comment). This delaying tactic puts kids’ health at risk. Doing a cost-benefit analysis makes sense for regulations that require companies to actually do something. But there is no cost associated with something that is totally voluntary.

Clearly the industry could use some advice about food marketing. Under industry's own marketing standards, Popsicles and Cocoa Puffs are considered healthy to market to kids and 80 percent of the foods companies market to children is still of poor nutritional value, despite self-regulatory efforts.

Unfortunately both the House and the Senate have fallen for industry's faulty claims that marketing is not effective, that voluntary suggestions violate the First Amendment, or that they would reduce jobs. Even when television ads for cigarettes were banned, media companies’ ad revenues continued to grow. Mars, Coca-Cola, and Hershey have voluntarily given up advertising to kids and seem to be doing just fine.

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).