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Joint Hearing of the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade and the Health Subcommittees of the Energy and Commerce Committee - "Food Marketing: Can "Voluntary' Government Restrictions Improve Children's Health?"


Location: Washington, DC

The FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act directed the USDA, CDC, and FTC to complete a study on food marketing to children and report back to Congress.

Instead, what these four agencies, collectively known as the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children, or IWG, delivered was a sweeping set of "voluntary" principles for marketing foods to kids.

These principles are based on nutritional standards that exceed and conflict with those of other government programs, some administered by these same agencies -- such as the WIC program, the school lunch program, and SNAP (food stamps) program.

The guidelines are so restrictive that many healthy foods, like low-fat yogurts, whole wheat bread, and 2% milk could not be marketed to those 17 and under.

Cereals, even non-sweetened cereals, would not meet the IWG guidelines, including Cheerios.

According to one analysis, 88 out of the 100 most advertised foods and drinks would be in violation of these standards.

Please don't misunderstand. I am very concerned about the obesity epidemic in our nation.

I have four young grandchildren. I want them to make good dietary and lifestyle choices and grow up healthy. And their parents, not government bureaucrats, are in the best position to see that that happens.

Frankly, banning peanut butter commercials during hours when they may be watching TV is not going to accomplish that goal.

The IWG should completely withdraw these recommendations and do what they were instructed to do by Congress in the FY2009 Omnibus -- conduct a study and report the findings of the study and their recommendations to Congress.

That report was due July 15, 2010.

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