WASHINGTON — Shortly after she launched her signature anti-obesity initiative more than three years ago, Michelle Obama signaled she would take on a contentious issue: advertising for snacks, soft drinks, sugary cereals and fast food aimed at children.
She denounced ads that use cartoon characters to push junk food. She bluntly told executives "to step it up" to improve the foods they market to children.
And she promoted a White House "action plan" on obesity that praised a federal effort to come up with voluntary marketing guidelines — the most significant attempt in decades to limit ads targeting children.
But when food and media companies —...