health matters

Kids LiveWell: US Food Industry's Obesity Marketing Comeback to Feds

Posted by Dale Buss on July 18, 2011 03:00 PM

America’s food and beverage makers, in tandem with casual restaurants including Burger King, have stepped up their marketing offensive against federal regulators who are seeking to impose tough new “voluntary” standards about marketing to children.

Industry groups are intensifying their battle on two fronts: extending more effort on self-governing programs to offer more healthy-product options and to soft-pedal their marketing, and punching back harder against the proposal by the Obama administration’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on marketing food to children.

“The IWG proposal is truly radical and unprecedented,” Dan Jaffe, EVP of government relations for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), said last week. Ratcheting up the group’s recent rhetoric, he said, “It calls for a massive re-engineering of the entire food industry, based on nutrition standards that go far beyond any ever approved by a government agency.

“The proposal calls for sweeping restrictions on the marketing of a wide array of healthy products, not only to children but to adults as well. As such, it violates the First Amendment rights of both marketers and consumers. Worst of all, there is absolutely no discussion or proof that these massive changes, which would cost billions of dollars if carried out, would have any direct impact on reducing childhood obesity rates.”

In the meantime, the industry is rolling out some good cops as well. Burger King, Denny's and Au Bon Pain are among the biggest restaurant brands backing a new healthy-kids menu initiative called Kids LiveWell.

An initiative of the US industry's lobbying arm, the National Restaurant Association, it requires meals carrying the LiveWell logo to contain two servings of fruits or vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy – and 600 or fewer calories. Five other quick-serve brands – notably, not McDonald's or Subway – and 13 other inaugural partners launched LiveWell.

And on Thursday, a group of food-industry partners – a roster with a huge overlap in membership with the ANA, this one including McDonald's – said it would revise a set of voluntary standards for marketing to kids according to general standards for each type of food, beginning in 2014.

The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative was launched with the help of the Council of Better Business Bureaus a few years ago but until now has relied on the companies to come up with their own definitions of “healthy” in how they restricted marketing to kids.

Critics immediately assailed all of these actions as self-serving for the industry, not only too little but too late. That was no surprise. This is one food fight that won’t be over soon.


Joseph G. United States says:

It may seem like "too little too late," but the Kids LiveWell initiative is at least a step in the right direction. Healthier eating habits aren't going to happen overnight. It's going to take a prolonged effort on the part of lobbyists, restaurant brands and agencies in order to foster any kind of real change. The initiative is at least a start.

July 19, 2011 09:55 AM #

marian jane United States says:

You should be very conscious about <a href='’>get outdoor fit</a> with this kind of news. it's so sad that parents have become irresponsible about their children's health which is now resulting to a serious case of child obesity in our society. Stop them from eating to much sugary food! Parents should recognize their roles in the lives of their children to healthy living since children will not be kids forever they will be much prone to sickness such as diabetes and heart ailements and we don't want that!

July 19, 2011 11:04 AM #

Andy United States says:

Kids can and do like all-natural drinks at 25-calories per serving (New York Department of Education New Guidelines).

Here's the proof:


Andy Schamisso
Founder  & President
Inko's White Tea

July 19, 2011 12:53 PM #

meg United States says:

the parents need to make an effort to encourage healthy eating in their children. bottom line

July 21, 2011 10:34 PM #

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