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Junk Food Giants Form Bogus 'Task Force' on Child Obesity

Learn more and take action at OCA's "Appetite for a Change" children's environmental health campaign headquarters here.

An alliance of major food corporations, entertainment companies, advertisers and the FCC has created a task force to combat childhood obesity. The task force, which calls itself "Media and Childhood Obesity: Today and Tomorrow," held its inaugural meeting March 21, 2007.

The task force was first announced last September and is being spearheaded by Senator Sam Brownback, Senator Tom Harkin, FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin and Commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Michael Copps. Participants include The Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association (GMA/FPA), Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola Company, General Mills, Kellogg Company, McDonald's, PepsiCo, Viacom, Discovery Channel, Walt Disney Company, Sesame Workshop, Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

At the task force's first meeting, GMA/FPA's chief government affairs officer, Mary Sophos, stated, "For more than three decades, the self-regulatory guidelines of the Children's Advertising Review Unit have helped to ensure that advertising to children by food companies is age and nutritionally appropriate, and reflects a balanced approach to health and nutrition."

Despite this claim, there is an epidemic of obesity among American children. Advertisers spend more than $10 billion annually on advertising children's food products. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children under the age of six cannot distinguish between program content and advertising.

"You must be kidding me. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft and Kellogg's are going to target childhood obesity? These are the companies whose products actually promote obesity," said consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of The 7 Laws of Nutrition. "Although I welcome any positive change by these corporations that have, in my opinion, contributed significantly to the obesity problem in this nation today, I remain skeptical that they will take any meaningful action. This task force looks like a public relations stunt, not a serious effort to improve the health of children," Adams said.

The National Institutes of Health report that children who are obese have increased rates of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, liver disease and asthma. Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese in adulthood.

Related resources: The Honest Food Guide (http://www.HonestFoodGuide.org)

Learn more and take action at OCA's "Appetite for a Change" children's environmental health campaign headquarters here.
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