Editor’s note: This post comments on “New Strategies To Improve Food Marketing To Children,” by William Dietz, the former director of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the September issue of Health Affairs.
For decades, I have fought to replace our nation’s “sick care” system with a genuine health care system, one focused on wellness, prevention, and public health. In the Affordable Care Act, I made sure that all proven preventive services would be available with no copays or deductibles, and I included provisions to enhance community prevention programs.
However, much more needs to be done, as evidenced by the shocking rise of America’s twin epidemics of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in young people. Some attribute this crisis largely to changing nutrition patterns – more calories, more junk food. Others say the cause is a dramatic decline in physical activity. Obviously, both are at fault.
Likewise, who needs a Harvard study to prove that the sophisticated, aggressive, all-pervasive marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children is also a contributor to the twin epidemics assaulting our children’s health? Food and beverage companies don’t spend nearly $2 billion a year to market their products to kids because they like to waste money; no, they do so because it is brilliantly effective in persuading children to demand – often to the point of throwing temper tantrums in the supermarket aisle – a regular diet of candy, cookies, sugary cereals, sodas, and all manner of junk food.
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