To Combat Childhood Obesity, Let’s Load Up on Government

Today the White House’s Childhood Obesity Task Force released its action plan “to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.” First Lady Michelle Obama held a media event to announce the report, and adviser Melody Barnes blogged it in a post, “Take a Look at Our Action Plan to Solve the Problem of Childhood Obesity.”

The report is posted at, with this description:

In February, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. As part of this effort, President Barack Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an interagency plan that details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan to end the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. The action plan defines the goal of ending childhood obesity in a generation as returning to a childhood obesity rate of just 5 percent by 2030, which was the rate before childhood obesity first began to rise in the late 1970s. In total, the report presents a series of 70 specific recommendations, many of which can be implemented right away.

The recommendations do flow logically, from the voluntary to coercive. For example, in the section “Empowering Parents and Caregivers”:

Recommendation 2.5: The food and beverage industry should extend its self-regulatory program to cover all forms of marketing to children, and food retailers should avoid in-store marketing that promotes unhealthy products to children.
Recommendation 2.6: All media and entertainment companies should limit the licensing of their popular characters to food and beverage products that are healthy and consistent with science-based nutrition standards
Recommendation 2.7: The food and beverage industry and the media and entertainment industry should jointly adopt meaningful, uniform nutrition standards for marketing food and beverages to children, as well as a uniform standard for what constitutes marketing to children.
Recommendation 2.8: Industry should provide technology to help consumers distinguish between advertisements for healthy and unhealthy foods and to limit their children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertisements.
Recommendation 2.9: If voluntary efforts to limit the marketing of less healthy foods and beverages to children do not yield substantial results, the FCC could consider revisiting and modernizing rules on commercial time during children’s programming.

“Revisiting and modernizing…” Why settle for one euphemism for expanding government control of the marketplace when you can use two?

Leave a Reply