Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Why should there be special attention to children's food that are marketed through high visibility promotional programs? One of the reasons is that children at their tender age cannot discern bad food from the good ones and hence need protection from intrusive advertisements with lot of incentives. More over food habits developed during early stages of growth are likely to be carried through out life and wrong foods based diet can do considerable harm to the health of future citizens. Obesity syndrome that is rampant in affluent countries like USA is linked to consumption of unbalanced foods vis-a-vis energy and nutrients and every society has a responsibility to see that their young ones start their life without a handicap. Though there have been suggestions to ban advertisement of kid's foods in the electronic media, such a move may not find favor in many democratically ruled countries. The latest move in USA to "persuade" the food industry to voluntarily stop advertising foods to kids if they do not meet with some standards is fiercely being resisted by the industry. Here is a take on this vital issue.

"The guidelines are designed to encourage foodmakers to reduce salt, added sugars and fats in foods and drinks targeted to children. If their products did not meet the standards, foodmakers following the guidelines would refrain from advertising them to children. The standards would be voluntary and not regulations; companies would not be required to meet them, and the government would have no way to enforce them. Public-health experts say children, many of whom may lack the critical-thinking skills to understand advertising, are bombarded daily by television ads, Web sites, toy giveaways and cartoon characters promoting junk food. The food and beverage industry spends about $2 billion a year marketing directly to children. The business community has portrayed the government's guidelines as job-killing government overreach. Foodmakers said the voluntary guidelines are too severe and would prevent them from marketing even relatively healthy foods to children".

It is sad that the food industry lacks conscience while resisting such a positive policy of protecting children from the ill-effects of bad foods, rich in sugar, fat and salt. Probably profit motives over ride all other concerns and the industry cannot absolve itself of the responsibility of creating a healthy society through good foods. Governments world over must put in place reasonable restraints to prevent the industry from causing damage to the health of its citizens through reckless practices considered illogical from the national perspective.

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