AMA childhood obesity reco steers clear of advertising


The American Medical Association is well aware of the growing threat of childhood obesity and has put together an outline on how the nation in general and individual families in particular can address the problem. Although television is a factor in this, the issue of food advertising was not mentioned. The television connection was simply that it is a passive sedentary occupation, and for that reason should be limited to no more than two hours a day. This is so that it is replaced by active play.

Most of the recommendations are geared toward other ways of increasing physical activity and developing and maintaining a healthy diet. Many of the food types which are the target of anti-food ad advocates were mentioned, including sugary drinks and fast food, but the concept of banning such advertisement or even curtailing them was not mentioned.

SmartMedia observation: Broadcasters want clients to be aware of the effectiveness of advertising, so it's idiotic to suggest that advertising food to children doesn't have an effect on what they want. However, it still falls on parents to decide what they get, and how much television they watch. As we've stated in the past, broadcasters and advertisers involved in this ongoing debate will do well to be as cooperative as possible.

But regulators and watchdogs must also be aware that advertising is not the root problem. We recently watched a documentary on this topic noting how many schools serve nutritionally-inferior meals and shortchange physical fitness. Banning advertising isn't going to fix that problem. Bottom line, it was good to see the AMA focus on calories and exercise rather than engaging in a finger pointing exercise.