Friday, April 29, 2011

Eating ourselves to death

Apparently we need to be saved from ourselves. At least that's what the Federal Trade Commission thinks.

Our children are fat and clearly advertising is the problem.

They've proposed "voluntary guidelines" to change how food products are marketed to children. Essentially the proposal is encouraging food companies to produce marketing campaigns that "encourage children to choose foods that make meaningful contributions to a healthful diet." Fair enough.

So if you're a food maker and you're going to advertise to children using "child- or teen-oriented animated or licensed characters; use of language to appeal particularly to children or teenagers; use of child or teen models; child- or teen-oriented themes, activities, or incentives," the FTC will be watching you. And if your food doesn't conform to very strict guidelines for added sugars, sodium, trans fat and saturated fat, there will be consequences. What those consequences will be as yet are unknown, but one can only imagine...

As someone who has created food advertising and new products for nearly 20 years for brands that include Kraft, Chiquita, General Mills and Pepsi, and knowing a lot of people who work in those companies, I fear that our government ascribes darker motives to their behavior than I have ever seen. These are good people with families of their own who are doing their best to produce the products that people are asking for and even lead the market in healthier directions. Ultimately their job is to produce products that sell and do it in a responsible way.

It's unfortunate that they are being punished because we have become so lax in our parenting and our food knowledge is so poor that the government feels the need to step in before our under-parented children eat themselves to death.

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