Don’t market junk food to kids, doctors say


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The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out in favor of a ban on advertising junk food to children.

In a statement Monday, the organization said ads for junk food are pervasive on children’s television and online. Children already are sedentary from watching so much TV and using computers or gaming systems, the organization said. Adding commercials into the mix makes everything worse, because then the kids want to snack on junk food even as they sit and stare at screens. The July issue of the organization’s magazine, Pediatrics, also also included a study on the effect of food advertising on children.


“We’ve created a perfect storm for childhood obesity -- media, advertising, and inactivity,” said the statement’s lead author, Dr. Victor Strasburger, a member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media. “American society couldn’t do a worse job at the moment of keeping children fit and healthy -- too much TV, too many food ads, not enough exercise and not enough sleep.”

The move by the nation’s pediatricians comes on the heels of a nationwide campaign by nutrition activists to stop fast food companies from marketing to children.

In recent months, two California counties have enacted so-called Happy Meal bans, barring restaurants from handing out toys with children’s meals that have high levels of calories, fat and sodium. Restaurant industry lobbyists have worked hard to keep other communities taking similar action.

Activists have also asked McDonald’s to quit using its clown mascot, Ronald McDonald, to market to kids. The fast food giant has said that its meals include healthy options for children, including low-fat milk and apple slices with caramel dipping sauce.


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-- Sharon Bernstein