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FTC Forum Today on Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity

December 15, 2009

Today, ANA is taking part in a discussion at the Federal Trade Commission’s public forum on “Sizing Up Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity.”  The panel discussion covers “Advertising to Children and the First Amendment.”  Our statement points out the many steps the industry is taking to address concerns about childhood obesity, such as through the Ad Council, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), and the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).  Conversely (and unfortunately), the government has yet to step up to the plate in a similar fashion.  ANA argues that we can solve the challenge of obesity without supersizing censorship or downsizing First Amendment protections.

We must focus on more effective approaches in dealing with the actual causes of childhood obesity.  Report after report has shown that advertising is not a primary causal factor in childhood obesity – in fact, advertising on children’s programming has been declining while obesity rates have gone up.

Most importantly, however, we also contend that any restrictions on food and beverage advertising would raise serious constitutional issues by restricting truthful, non-deceptive speech.  The Supreme Court has long been clear that the government can only restrict speech as a last resort.  

You can read ANA's statement here.

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