Monday, April 18, 2005
Yet Another Push For American Communism!
I am shocked at yet another move to push the United States into a communist state. A blatant infringement on our Freedom of Speech in the name of protecting children. Protecting children from what…ACCOUNTABILITY??!!
If we censor everything but what the weakest minds among us can handle…we will all be dumbed down to thinking only at the level of the weakest minds among us! Stop the dumbing down of America! Stop censorship…bring back FREEDOM!!!
It's one thing to promote health, it is completely another to censor businesses and in doing so...trample First Amendment Rights. This is on the same level as attempting to sue fast food chains for the food that you purchased, and ate...and continued to purchase and eat while you saw yourself grow fatter and fatter by the day!!! ACOUNTABILITY!!!!!!!!!!!
What next…A government forced closure of all StarBucks to help prevent traffic gridlock and pollution: (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61460-2005Apr17.html)
Push grows to limit food ads to children
By Raja Mishra, Globe Staff April 18, 2005
Concerned about widespread childhood obesity, health advocates and politicians are intensifying pressure on the food industry to limit or even eliminate marketing targeted at children for sugary and fattening products.
Some companies already have responded by pulling ads during children's television programs. More broadly, the food industry will negotiate voluntary restrictions on ads with federal regulators this summer. But the industry also plans to lobby against legislation that would give the government the authority to restrict commercials during children's shows.
Food advertising to youngsters is big business, with the industry spending $10 billion last year trying to shape the tastes of children, according to congressional researchers. The marketing effort, with pop culture icons such as Ronald McDonald and Cap'n Crunch, has become one of the most contentious aspects of the nation's struggle with obesity.
Scientists have not found conclusive evidence that exposure to food advertising leads to childhood obesity, although a recent spate of studies has provided support for a link. The research has been enough to convince a wide spectrum of physicians and health advocates -- even the influential Institute of Medicine, a scientific group that advises Congress -- that food ads directed at children are partly to blame for the soaring number of overweight American children.
It is clear that children have extensive exposure to advertising. Recent studies estimated that the typical child views about 40,000 television ads annually, and more than half of child-targeted advertising is for candy, sugary cereals, or fast foods. Some health advocates contend that the reach of the ads has grown through the Internet, where many children play video games adorned with products, such as a golf game on a Nabisco site in which players aim at Oreo targets.
''Marketing to children has escalated exponentially since the 1980s, and its rise mirrors the rise of childhood obesity," said Susan Linn, a psychologist who is associate director of the Media Center at the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston.
The focus of the effort to limit food advertising to children is in Washington, where Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, plans to introduce a bill this month that would allow broad regulation of advertising to children on television, the Internet, and elsewhere -- a power that Congress sharply limited three decades ago, despite allowing continued broad regulation of commercials during programs aimed at adults.
The food industry opposes the measure, arguing that self- regulation would be more effective while also maintaining companies' right to free speech.
Nonetheless, some food companies have voluntarily begun withdrawing ads. The Coca-Cola Co. no longer advertises during shows with audiences predominantly younger than 12. Kraft Foods Inc., among the companies spending the most on ads targeted at children, now only runs commercials featuring healthy foods such as sugar-free drinks, low-fat meat products, and whole-grain products.
Lance Friedmann, senior vice president at Kraft, acknowledged that ''advertising plays a role" in influencing children's eating habits. Kraft no longer runs ads for Oreos and Kool-Aid during shows with audiences ages 6 to 11, replacing them with ads for white- meat chicken Lunchables, sugar-free Kool-Aid, and other products low in fat and calories.
''We want to help kids, as well as adults, make better food choices," he said of Kraft's advertising policy, announced in January. ''We think it's the right thing to do."
The Kraft and Coke moves probably will get attention as possible models for the industry when the Federal Trade Commission convenes a summit in Washington this summer to examine ways that food makers can voluntarily change their advertising practices. The summit was urged by a report last year by the Institute of Medicine that concluded that a variety of societal factors, including advertising, had driven the increase in childhood obesity.
More than 15 percent of US children ages 6 to 19 are obese, as are 10 percent of those ages 2 to 5, triple the rates of three decades ago, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obese children face elevated lifetime risks for dying of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions.
Last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health-policy think tank, surveyed the research done on advertising and obesity, and concluded, ''The main mechanism by which media use contributes to childhood obesity may well be through children's exposure to billions of dollars worth of food advertising."
Several studies reviewed by Kaiser found that the more time children spent watching television, the more likely they were to ask their parents to buy the foods they saw advertised. A 2003 study, led by Harvard researchers, found that the more children watched television, the less they consumed fruits and vegetables; the scientists concluded that ads played a role in this.
Television advertising is the central focus of health advocates; it remains the dominant form of media in children's lives. But there is growing concern about the Internet, where food ads appear on many websites, while company-run sites, like nabiscoworld.com and hersheys.com/kidztown, contain video games in which junk food ads appear or the products themselves are part of the games.
But how to legally or effectively regulate this expanding media world is far from certain. Decades ago, tobacco advertisers agreed to pull television ads, only to find new outlets in magazines and through sponsoring sports and entertainment events. Alcohol companies refrain from running ads during children's shows, but many health advocates argue that their messages still reach children.
Harkin's bill would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to set policies limiting advertising to children in any medium.
Richard P. Martin, vice president of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the largest food industry trade group, said of the bill and efforts to curtail food ads: ''They have a very specific and narrow-minded goal that's not in line with mainstream America."
The FTC's previous brush with the issue resulted in the current situation in which adult-targeted advertising can be more broadly regulated than ads aimed at children. Three decades ago, with health advocates pushing to reduce tooth decay through regulation of ads for sweets, the FTC began attempts to curtail advertising. The food industry lobbied against this, and Congress stopped funding the agency for a brief period.
In 1980, Congress passed a law limiting the FTC's reach over advertising to children: The agency can set policies only against overtly misleading advertising to children, but not advertising that may produce harmful social effects, as they can with ads directed at adults.
The FTC's current chairwoman, Deborah Platt Majoras, has said in recent speeches that she opposes government restrictions or bans on ads, but also expects companies to approach self- regulation seriously.
But Linn is skeptical of voluntary limits and she advocates a prohibition on marketing to children younger than 12. ''The message to kids is that these products will make them happy," Linn said. ''And what parent doesn't want to make their kids happy?"