Congress Loves Money, Not Kids

If you had a doubt as to the true alignment of your representatives when it comes to childhood obesity, last week Congress showed that all you need to do is follow the money trail. Lobbies representing the biggest food advertisers have gotten to our elected officials and convinced them that marketing Apple Jacks to children is just fine.

Because a cereal that is 40% sugar by weight is a healthy way for little Sally to start the day. And a cereal with hyperactivity triggering artificial dyes is a wonderful way for little Johnny to get in the groove on a school day.

Here’s the story:

Two years ago, Congress asked 4 agencies to review the marketing practices of the food industry when it comes to children, and to provide recommendations. The interagency working group (IWG), comprised of members from the FTC, FDA, USDA, and CDC sat diligently and came up with a set of proposed principles that would not be written into law, rather VOLUNTARILY accepted by the food industry.

Food marketers were very upset, and demanded changes to the proposals. So a  few months ago, unwillingly, the IWG weakened these voluntary guidelines.

But that was still not good enough. Last week, Congress shot down the proposals through the use of some lame “cost benefit analysis” rule:

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 includes a provision that requires the Federal Trade Commission and the three agencies that are part of the Interagency Working Group to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed guidelines. The move, considered a major victory for food and beverage advertisers, effectively delays release of the final guidelines, originally expected by the end of this year. More here…

What’s the cost benefit analysis? Well, if the voluntary guidelines were to be adopted, billions of dollars in advertising would not be spent, and even more billions in revenue would not be made. But kids would consume less crap. That sounds like a great idea for America’s children. But it’s “bad for business”.

Expect a 2012 filled with junk food commercials planted in our kids’ brains, and then later in their stomachs. Sigh.

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  • Ccbweb

    There would still be billions spent on advertising and billions in revenue. Perhaps simply on something less horrific than Apple Jacks. The idea that all of these companies would sit on their hands and neither sell nor market new products is laughable. The manufacturers would have to reformulate currebt products or develop new products. It would certainly cost money but that’s fine with me.

  • Maria

    Yet another sign that we live in an oligarchy.  So glad we canceled cable a while back and got rid of all but one old CRT TV (and put it in the basement out of the way).  It’s very jarring for us nowadays to watch TV with all the obnoxious commercials and so many godawful shows.

  • C_ann_angel

    Disheartening, to hear that our money is more important than the health of our children.  Now that we know that making money is more important, how about we use economic sense, don’t buy the product.  Supply and demand is a powerful tool in the world of money.

  • Heidi Hall

    SOLUTION- parents should just not buy it *LOL* obviously, government only cares about money because it makes the world go round…

  • Guest

    Ah, yes, those “lame” cost-benefit concepts. Those are just an evil conspiracy to keep economies functioning by preventing malicious lawmaking of the sort we prefer. Cost-benefit is for sissies who balance their checkbooks and keep their credit cards paid down — not for impulsive know-nothings like us who are whimsically determined to screw up a mostly OK global food system. Level-headed people are such party-poopers.

  • Mdeva Evans

    And just as you, Anonymous Fooducate Author, throw blanket blame on all of “Congress”, I blame YOU, Anonymous Fooducate Author for electing the Congress who write these laws. If you don’t have the energy or character to place the blame more precisely, then you deserve results – and all the scorn I can muster.

    • Gerome

      Mdeva, from the linked article: “There is nothing in the [IWG] report
      to date that spells the benefits out concretely,” said Dan Jaffe,
      executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers,
      which has argued the guidelines would cost multibillions of dollars to
      advertisers that would be forced to change product formulations.

      Nutritionists, arguing that the guidelines are necessary to combat
      childhood obesity, chalked up the budget provision as another case of
      lobbying clout wielded by deep-pocketed interests. “Too bad kids don’t
      have their own PAC,” said Margo Wootan, director of the Center for
      Science in the Public Interest. She cited a Sunlight Foundation report
      that found advertisers spent as much as $37 million to lobby Congress in

      So, advertisers argue that products would have to be reformulated (uh, made healthier — or less bad for you — you choose). Oh, horrors.  Well, not really, they could still sell the same junk, but not advertise it to children.

      This will all get back to the same point of food companies saying that there is no evidence that sugary foods are related to obesity. Or that when used as intended (enjoy an occasional cola, but don’t make it a habit) the product is safe. So true!

      So, you want to heap scorn on the “anonymous author” because he could not vote someone out of office? Or he did not list who voted up or down on this legislation?

      Come on. Indignation is fun, but let’s be real. And read the web site’s About page. The author is far from anonymous.

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  • Jim

    You are right about the excess sugar, but you well know that there is NO EVIDENCE that dyes trigger hyperactivity.

  • Jeannie Marshall

    It’s a cultural problem – we value money more than people, certainly more than the health of children. There should be no advertising to children since children are not adults and cannot make decisions based on careful reasoning. 


    As I have said before, as long as the American population allows themselves to be pissed on by their polititicans and PACS and other speical interest groups, this will continue. DEMANDS LOBBYING BE MADE ILLEGAL!! WITHOUT THAT, THERE WILL BE NEVER BE CHANGE…

  • carolplotkin

    So parents need to take action and turn off the TVs and censor computer use! It makes kids fat anyway! 

  • Jefe

    “billions of dollars in advertising would not be spent, and even more billions in revenue would not be made”
    You neglect the billions of dollars in health care costs

  • Stephenmks

    Wow. I’m shocked…..not at all.

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