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January 26, 2006

Forget the Lawyers. Just Say No

Cathy Arnst

Fellow blogger Amy Dunkin alerted me that the anti-obesity movement is shifting to the courts: Consumer groups have filed a $2 billion lawsuit against Kellogg and Nickelodeon for engaging in unfair and deceptive "marketing and sale of food of poor nutritional quality" to children under 8 years old.

Here's an excerpt from the Ad Age article about the suit:

The notice asks for $25 each time a Massachusetts child under 8 saw a Kellogg's ad for "nutritionally poor" products; an ad on Nickelodeon for any company's nutritionally poor products; or Nickelodeon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants promoting nutritionally poor food over the past four years, a total that the suit claims could reach billions of dollars. The groups are asking for $1 billion from each company, but are offering to settle for changes in marketing, including a bar on the advertising of any food of poor nutritional quality on programming where at least 15% of the audience is under 8.

So here's my problem: Forget whether or not the courts are the appropriate place to find the battle of American bulge. There's a larger issue here: Kids eight and under rarely go to the store on their own, pull out their piggy banks and buy junk food. As we all know too well, they nag their parents to buy it for them. JUST SAY NO! And don't mutter to yourself that it's easier said than done. I wager that if your 7-year-old was whining and crying for a $300 I-Pod, or the right to stay up until 11 on a school night, you'd say no. Anyone have some suggestions on effective ways to say no to junk food?

Also, I want to give a shoutout to Mike Guaraccino's comment on my last post. I agree, don't even start your kids on soda and juice, stick with water or milk. It is possible, though tough if you are guzzling lots of soda yourself. My parents never had soda in the house when I was growing up and consequently I never developed a taste for it. Now I'm following the same practice with my daughter. She hates soda, and even when over at friends' houses only wants water or milk (skim milk, I might add, and I apologize for sounding holier than thou. We do like our daily chocolate pudding treat, if that helps).

Switching to milk is a good idea for us parents as well. A new study in Obesity Research says dairy products can improve the body's ability to burn fat during exercise. The study was funded in part by the Dairy Council, but also by the NIH, and the researchers are reputable.

05:51 PM

eating

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Cathy, I have a friend who's a phd in economics. Her field, the economics of tobacco, has been rich with opportunity. In the last decade, she's flown around the world, consulting, grabbing all sorts of business. Now she tells me that she's switching the economics of obesity. That's where the money's moving.

Posted by: steve baker at January 26, 2006 06:18 PM

I was not allowed to have very many sweets as a child. I was given an apple or a carrot instead of a candy bar. That stuck with me until now. I have a family of my own, two boys under two. This brings another point: One parent can say "no junk food" and that will do no good at all if the other parent (or baby sitter, grandma, etc.) gives them soda and junk anyway.

Posted by: Logan Wick at January 27, 2006 04:55 AM


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