'World News' Promotes Food Police Attack on Marketing
The July 29 âWorld News with Charles Gibsonâ gave a one-sided account of food marketing, parroting the claims of a liberal activist âconsumer groupâ and ignoring the role of parental responsibility in making food purchases for children.
âThe ads are everywhere â on television, online and on the packaging itself,â ABC correspondent Lisa Stark said. âMany feature movie or cartoon characters luring children to foods many consider unhealthy.â
Stark even interviewed children from a YMCA camp in Washington, D.C., who accused companies of trying to âlike, brainwashâ kids with targeted marketing.
âAnd all those characters hocking the products, theyâre effective, too. So are any giveaways,â Stark said. âMany food companies, under public pressure, are now changing how they market to those under age 12.â
The segment didnât include any parents â the ones actually responsible for purchasing food for children.
It also didnât offer a statement from the industry or include any company that markets their products. However, it did include two âexpertsâ â one from the Better Business Bureau and one from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an activist non-profit organization that aggressively promotes the regulation of food.
Elaine Kolish of the Better Business Bureau said companies are holding themselves to nutrition standards and focusing advertising dollars on healthier foods. But Stark turned toward the government for more regulation because âconsumers groups say those voluntary standards arenât nearly good enough.â
âSo the fast food companies donât have sodium standards,â Margo Wootan of CSPI said. âThe cereal manufactures have very weak sugar standards. Coke doesnât consider the front of vending machines in schools to be marketing.â
Stark acknowledged the Federal Trade Commission doesnât link marketing to childhood obesity, even though itâs a position CSPI has taken for decades. But she echoed a draconian warning from the FTC to food marketers.
âThe FTC would not go so far as to link food marketing to childhood obesity, but did warn companies: use those ad dollars to promote only healthy food,â Stark said.