FTC opens childhood obesity examination


And you can bet that commercials aimed at children will be a big part of the all-day session at the Federal Trade Commission Conference Center in Washington. The session is called, "Weighing In: A Check-Up on Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity." It will be long on regulators and academics and short on broadcasters.

In fact, the closest thing to a representative will be Lynda Dorman of the CATV-oriented BET Foundation. aT any rate, if Ed Markey's (D-MA) opinion is considered, the self-regulators may be getting a low grade. Markey had praised Kellogg's unilateral decision to limit its marketing to the preteen set, and challenged other food manufacturers to do the same. Last week he said he had received responses from Coca-Cola Company, General Mills, Kraft Foods, McDonald's and PepsiCo.

"I'd like there companies to 'supersize' their commitment to public health and take steps to refrain from targeting young kids with certain food marketing – if Snap, Crackle and Pop can do it, why can't Ronald McDonald?" he asked. "The vague and incomplete responses form these companies, at a time when our country is facing a serious childhood obesity crisis, again raise the question of whether voluntary industry action will be sufficient to combat this important public health issue."

Markey said that of the named companies, only Coca-Cola had already unveiled a program with any impact, and that the others planned to announce initiatives at the FTC workshop.