Everything You Know Is Wrong

Food, Glorious Food

“Obama’s Food Police in Staggering Crackdown on Market to Kids,” written by Audrey Hudson, has racked up an astonishing 12,000 Facebook recommendations and more than 700 comments. If the comments were somehow communicated to a scholar 500 years into the future, they would reveal pretty much everything a person might need to know about life on Earth in 2011, or at least the parts related to childhood obesity.

Every time a government agency contemplates getting serious about protecting kids from aggressive or seductive marketing or from mysterious additives, or even from excessive amounts of recognizable chemicals like sugar and salt, the food industry gets its knickers in a twist. Apparently, manufactures are feeling squeezed by pressure to either rewrite their recipes or stop advertising to minors.

Hudson says,

Food industries are in an uproar over the proposal written by the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture… It’s not just the food industry that will be impacted. Hundreds of television shows that depend on the advertising revenue… will be affected, critics of the proposal say — at a cost of $5.8 trillion in marketing expenditures that support up to 20 million American jobs.

Wow — talk about catastrophizing! The writer makes it sound like the end of the world as we know it. And these days, referring to potential job loss is usually enough to clinch any argument. If junk food may no longer by advertised to kids, 20 million dads and moms will be thrown out of work. Who wants to be responsible for that?

But what about the millions of kids whose health, now and for the rest of their lives, is impacted by the advertising of junk food? What about that little detail?

Now, here’s the juicy part. Hudson quotes Dan Jaffe, who happens to be an executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers. He is quoted as saying,

The most disturbing aspect of this interagency working group is, after it imposes multibillions of dollars in restrictions on the food industry, there is no evidence of any impact on the scourge of childhood obesity.

Oh, really? Some of their pseudo-food is so cunningly engineered, it’s no better than a designer drug, and there is plenty of evidence that the stuff contains obesogenic ingredients. And plenty of evidence, too, that the practice of advertising junk food to children can come to nothing but a bad end.

But even if there were no such evidence — so what? Why not try a ban on marketing to kids anyway? Why not pick 25 states at random and forbid any advertising of edible products to children within its borders? Why not try it for five years, then add up the results, compare and contrast, and decide what to do next? It might be worth a try.

Why not try eliminating the cartoon characters, the online contests, and the swag? Why not just sell food to the parents and leave the kids’ heads alone?

Clever as the food industry may be, it has one major blind spot that could be its undoing. In nature, even the most primitive parasitical organism is smart enough not to kill its host. This is Common Sense 101. Yet the food industry appears to be doing its best to kill off its future customers.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Obama’s Food Police in Staggering Crackdown on Market to Kids,” Human Events, 06/21/11
Image by stev.ie (Steve Winton), used under its Creative Commons license.

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  1. […] “Everything you know is Wrong” could probably extend to part 108, but rest easy, this will be the last one for a while. The Office of National Drug Control Policy tells us that the two main worries of parents are childhood obesity and drug abuse (which nowadays appears to consist mainly of the abuse of prescription medications, not the black-market substances). […]

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