GET INVOLVED     |     ISSUES     |     NEWSROOM     |     RESOURCES     |     ABOUT US     |     CONTRIBUTE     |     SEARCH  
 
 
 

           

Childhood Obesity Levels Off, Pressure on Advertisers Remains

 

Erik Sass

Media Daily News

May 29, 2008
 

A new study suggests that childhood obesity may be leveling off in the United States, after steadily increasing for decades. The finding comes as welcome news to parents, doctors and educators worried about health ramifications including heart disease and diabetes--but there will be no reprieve for food manufacturers, often lambasted by children's health activists for targeting children with ads for foods high in fat or sugar.

The study, published in the May 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was based on data from the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control from 1999-2006. It found that "the prevalence of [high body mass index]... among children and adolescents showed no significant changes between 2003-2004 and 2005-2006, and no significant trends between 1999-2006."

However, the study was quick to point out that there are still plenty of overweight kids. Overall, 31.9% of the children and adolescents had a BMI at or above the 85th percentile, widely used as a cut-off for being overweight, and 16.3% had a BMI at or above the 95th percentile, the technical cutoff for obesity.

Furthermore, some age groups and ethnicities are more prone to be overweight, or obese, than others. Finally, an editorial comment in the same issue of JAMA warned that "it is too early to know whether these data reflect a true plateau or a statistical aberration in an inexorable epidemic." Children's health activists certainly won't be relaxing the pressure on advertisers. Michael Jacobson, a pediatrician and founder and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, echoed the warning that "it's too early to say whether the rise in obesity has leveled off, adding that "health advocates need to work every bit as hard to push the trend downwards to get back to the levels of the early 1970s."

According to Jacobson, CSPI will continue with its campaign to get "tighter national regulations to limit the marketing of unhealthy foods to kids" (as well as other initiatives not related to marketing). He said the current voluntary restrictions on advertising of unhealthy foods to children "can be undone at any moment. Government certainly has a role in getting much greater improvements in the kinds of products that are marketed to kids."

While CSPI doesn't expect legislative action this year, Jacobsen hopes to see some after the elections in November, when Democrats led by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) may take up the issue.

The current voluntary self-policing is actually the result, in part, of CSPI's earlier efforts. CSPI threatened to bring a lawsuit against Kellogg in January 2006 under a Massachusetts law against junk-food advertising. In 2007, the CSPI threatened to bring similar lawsuits against 10 food manufacturers seeking substantial fines if they didn't adopt suitable guidelines for self-policing of advertising targeting children.

All the manufacturers eventually adopted self-regulatory standards that went beyond earlier voluntary standards adopted in 2006; in a typical concession, Kellogg agreed that its under-12 advertising will be limited to foods that have no more than 200 calories per serving, as well as no trans fat and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat.
 

 

STAY INFORMED

 

Email Address: State:
 

Subscribers receive no more than

1-2 emails per week

 
 
This article is copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner

 

     

Website Designed & Maintained By: AfterFive by Design, Inc.
CCFC Logo And Fact Sheets By:
MonicaGraphicDesign.com

Copyright 2004 Commercial Free Childhood. All rights reserved