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Rorschach Test

Rorschach Test

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The FTC, along with three other federal agencies, has released proposed "voluntary" principles for marketing food to kids…According to the Interagency Working Group, which includes the FTC, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control, food should only be marketed to kids if it both contains healthy ingredients and minimizes ingredients "that could have a negative impact on health or weight."

Here are links to the proposed guidelines and some clarifications.

Are the voluntary guidelines a nanny state backdoor route for the government to violate free speech rights (as the WSJ editorial board opines) or a welcome contribution to the common good in the form of a baby-step in support of fighting our obesity epidemic?

To wit, from the LA Times:

America continues to get fatter, according to a comprehensive new report on the nation's weight crisis. Statistics for 2008-2010 show that 16 states are experiencing steep increases in adult obesity, and none has seen a notable downturn in the last four years. Meanwhile, cases of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure that health experts have long warned would result from the nation's broadening girth and sedentary ways are becoming increasingly widespread, according to the report, titled "F as in Fat," released Thursday…In the last 15 years, the report said, adult obesity rates have doubled or nearly doubled in 17 states. Two decades ago, not a single state had an obesity rate above 15%. Now all states do…with eight of the nation's 10 most obese states clustered near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and along the southern Appalachian Mountains. Among the top 10, only Oklahoma and Michigan — which had a 1.2% increase in adult obesity in the last four years, the largest of any state — are outside the South…Nearly 25% of adults fall in the obese category, meaning they have a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher…Obesity remains a condition disproportionately affecting those with poor education and income, and closely tied to minority status. Among African American adults, obesity topped 40% in 15 states. Among Latinos, it topped 30% in 23 states.  In contrast, among white adults, obesity rates were higher than 30% in only four states, and in no state topped 32.1%.


The report emphasized the need for a range of measures, including boosting physical activity in schools, encouraging adults to get out and exercise, broadening access to affordable healthy foods and using "pricing strategies" to encourage Americans to make better food choices.  "Until the government takes on the food industry, we'll continue to see the appalling numbers in this report," said Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who was not involved in the report. "These numbers signal an emergency, and we simply have to have the courage and resolve to do more than what we're doing."  "Government could start by changing agricultural subsidies, by not making it financially attractive for companies to market unhealthy foods, by placing serious restrictions on marketing to children, and with financial policies that make healthy foods cost less and unhealthy foods cost more."

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