'World News' Promotes Food Police Attack on Marketing
The July 29 â€śWorld News with Charles Gibsonâ€ť gave a one-sided account of food marketing, parroting the claims of a liberal activist â€śconsumer groupâ€ť and ignoring the role of parental responsibility in making food purchases for children.
â€śThe ads are everywhere â€“ on television, online and on the packaging itself,â€ť ABC correspondent Lisa Stark said. â€śMany feature movie or cartoon characters luring children to foods many consider unhealthy.â€ť
Stark even interviewed children from a YMCA camp in Washington, D.C., who accused companies of trying to â€ślike, brainwashâ€ť kids with targeted marketing.
â€śAnd all those characters hocking the products, theyâ€™re effective, too. So are any giveaways,â€ť Stark said. â€śMany food companies, under public pressure, are now changing how they market to those under age 12.â€ť
The segment didnâ€™t include any parents â€“ the ones actually responsible for purchasing food for children.
It also didnâ€™t offer a statement from the industry or include any company that markets their products. However, it did include two â€śexpertsâ€ť 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 â€śconsumers groups say those voluntary standards arenâ€™t nearly good enough.â€ť
â€śSo the fast food companies donâ€™t have sodium standards,â€ť Margo Wootan of CSPI said. â€śThe cereal manufactures have very weak sugar standards. Coke doesnâ€™t consider the front of vending machines in schools to be marketing.â€ť
Stark acknowledged the Federal Trade Commission doesnâ€™t link marketing to childhood obesity, even though itâ€™s a position CSPI has taken for decades. But she echoed a draconian warning from the FTC to food marketers.
â€śThe 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€ť Stark said.