First Lady Michelle Obama today will attempt to revive efforts to force food marketers to advertise only healthy foods to kids, starting down a path that could lead to new government regulations or laws defining what type of legal products legal companies can market.
From the White House:
The White House to Host Convening on Food Marketing to Children
Mrs. Obama will call on stakeholders to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthy products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids
On the heels of the First Lady joining the Partnership for a Healthier America’s launch of a new “Drink Up” campaign to promote water as the healthiest choice, the White House, led by Mrs. Obama and the White House Domestic Policy Council, will host a convening about food marketing to children. Let’s Move!, the First Lady’s initiative to ensure all our children grow up healthy, works to make the healthy choice the easy choice for American families.
Mrs. Obama will speak to key stakeholders engaged on the issue of food marketing to children, including food and media industry executives, advocates, parent leaders, government agency representatives and researchers. The convening’s goal is to create a constructive dialogue and collaborative process for developing real solutions that support families in making healthier choices, including leveraging the power of marketing to promote healthy products and decreasing the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.
First of all, what’s a convening? I looked it up in my Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and . . . it isn’t there, at least not as a noun.
I found it on the Internets, but it’s never used by anyone. Why don’t we call it a hootenanny or something?
Okay, back to my point.
Efforts to regulate what foods advertisers can run during Scooby-Doo were abandoned in 2011 when enough people objected that this was government overreach. But with the Obamas safely elected, there’s not going to be any Mitt Romney claiming Michelle wants to crush free speech and take your kids’ Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies away at the same time.
But Michelle is facing criticism from the food cops on the beat that her Let’s Move efforts or too symbolic, according to the Associated Press:
New York University food and nutrition professor Marion Nestle, who also was attending the meeting, said studies show that voluntary restrictions don’t work.
“Food marketing is the elephant in the room,” she said. “If you’re serious about childhood obesity, you’ve got to do something about food marketing.”
And no doubt, she agrees.
Make no mistake, we’re going to start out with “voluntary this” and “voluntary that.” But imagine you’re a food company, and the president’s wife asks you to voluntarily do her bidding. Are you going to mess with the White House and them then decide corn sugar causes global warming?
Mrs. Obama is the government. The government needs to lay off free speech unless companies are rolling TV ads telling people their houses are on fire and to get out.
Parents need to control their kids food choices. But the Constitution guarantees them the right to make bad choices, and to hear about their options.