Fred Upton assails kid food marketing proposal


The Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce criticized an interagency committee formed to provide a study and report on the marketing of food to children and its connection to obesity that came up instead with no study, no report, and instead a set of recommendations. He said there must be a better way to tackle the problem.

“Instead of conducting the study or providing recommendations,” said Upton at a hearing on the topic, “the IWG unilaterally proposed guidelines that were so extreme that they would prevent the marketing to children of foods that most parents consider a win if their kids eat – such as yogurt, cheese sticks, and even soup. Moreover, the IWG’s definition of marketing was so broad that it endangered the philanthropic funding that many community sports programs and schools rely on to fund athletic activities – the one thing proven to combat childhood obesity.”

Upton seemed to find the entire project to be fairly nebulous, since it aimed only at producing voluntary guidelines, rather than a set of rules that must be followed. But he feared that if adopted, even the guidelines could lead to unnecessary judicial mischief. He explained, “But what happens when a litigious group sues a food manufacturer because it showed a commercial advertising a new kind of chocolate treat? Regardless of whether a child sees a commercial for that treat, the ultimate purchasing decision rests with the parent who purchases the groceries – and those groceries carry nutrition labels that every parent can read.

Upton concluded, “The Senate report language called for a study and a report to Congress. We have neither a study nor a report; rather, we have a quasi-regulatory maneuver that has drawn fire from a broad range of organizations and members of Congress. I am concerned about both the IWG’s recommendations and the manner in which they were produced going beyond the scope of their charge. I believe this approach opens the door to needless and expensive litigation, and ultimately, I believe there are much better approaches to improve the health of our children.”

RBR-TVBR observation: As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure our kids eat a balanced diet and have plenty of opportunity for physical activity. Unfortunately, not all parents bother.

But the old saying that you can’t legislate against stupidity is true, and in this case, if the IWG recommendations go forward, it appear that the law of unintended consequences would be the big winner.

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