In This Issue

Editor's Note


Special Report on Food Marketing to Children


Connecticut Governor Caves to Coke


Junk Food’s Health Crusade


The Passing of Peter Jennings


Protect Your Legal Rights


State Legislation Resources


Oregon Soda Contract Study


Upcoming Events


Seeking Local Stories

Quote, Unquote
  Food advertising to children should not be undermining parents’ authority.”
  – Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa at the July workshop on marketing and childhood obesity.





































































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August 2005

Editor's Note: With this issue, Informed Eating comes out of its summer hiatus because we just had too much to say about recent events to keep quiet any longer. Hope you enjoy the special report on the federal government’s workshop on marketing and childhood obesity more than I enjoyed attending the sorry event. Stay tuned in September for a special back-to-school report on state legislation.

Special Report on Food Marketing to Children

Last month, the federal government convened a meeting called “Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity.” That the emphasis was placed on voluntary self-regulation—as opposed to setting legal restrictions on junk food marketing aimed at children—was a sure sign that nothing of substance would be discussed. But even worse, the event turned into a public relations bonanza for Big Food. A full two-thirds of the panelists (25 out of 38) had financial ties to either the food or advertising industries. Informed Eating has compiled the following links to documents that will make you feel like you were there. But as you read them, you will soon be glad that you weren’t. If there is any good news to come out of the charade, it’s that the event did generate some decent press coverage, including a few articles that quoted CIFC.

Major Food Companies Hijack FTC Workshop
Joint Press Release

BOSTON, July 13 (AScribe Newswire) -- "A public relations exercise for the food and advertising industries," is what a coalition of public health advocates is calling the Federal Trade Commission's and Department and Health and Human Services' July 14-15 workshop on "Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity." Last year, the Institute of Medicine recommended that HHS convene a conference on setting improved food advertising guidelines and that the FTC monitor compliance with those standards. Instead, the FTC and HHS have provided the food industry with yet another forum to deny that their marketing practices play any role in the epidemic of childhood obesity; two-thirds of the workshop panelists have ties to the food or advertising industries.

Full release:

Kids Cereal Maker Flouts Ad Rules
Article by Michele Simon and Ellen Fried

Long gone are the days of mom’s oatmeal for breakfast. With products like Reese's Puffs and Oreo’s O’s now passing for breakfast food, it’s difficult to distinguish the cereal aisle from a candy store. Meanwhile, as public health experts sound the alarm over rising rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, cereal manufacturers find themselves increasingly on the defensive.
Full Article:

Government Abandons Children to Big Food
Commentary by Michele Simon
With rising rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, you might think that when the federal government convenes a meeting on how food companies market food to kids, talk of how to regulate industry practices might actually be on the agenda. But you'd be wrong.
Full article:

Other Media Coverage:
Showdown Looms on Food Advertising to Children

“Industry self-regulation of food marketing to children is a 30-year experiment that has utterly failed,” wrote Michele Simon, director of the Center for Informed Food Choices. “One only needs to turn on any children’s television show to see the plain evidence of this reality. Having a few well-meaning statements on a web site about such ideas as not taking advantage of a child’s imagination is insufficient considering the onslaught of marketing messages that bombard children on a daily basis.”
Full article:

Clash Between Industry and Advocacy Groups Sets
Scene for FTC Conference
The food industry effort at self-regulation "is a 30-year experiment that has utterly failed," the Center for Informed Choices charged in a filing with the Federal Trade Commission.
Advertising Age
, June 16, 2021

Nickelodeon Jumps on Health-Food Bandwagon
"By allowing the food industry to hijack this meeting, the FTC and HHS have abandoned their commitment to children and families," said Susan Linn of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. To blunt growing criticisms, the food industry's main lobby, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, will unveil some tougher rules for its advertisers, such as cutting back on product placements. Health advocates claim the GMA won't limit ads or sales of junk food, even in schools. "The GMA is on record as opposing every state bill that would restrict the sale of junk food and sodas in schools," said Michele Simon, director of the Center for Informed Food Choices.
New York Post
, July 14, 2021

Comments filed by Center for Informed Food Choices:

All public comments, transcript of the event, and presentations:
If you want to skip right to those presentations at the meeting that were of any substance, I recommend the following speakers:

  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)

  • Sonya Grier, University of Pennsylvania

  • Jeffrey McIntyre, American Psychological Association

  • Elizabeth Moore, University of Notre Dame

  • Victoria Rideout, Kaiser Family Foundation

  • Patti Miller, Children Now

  • Margo Wootan, Center for Science in the Public Interest

  • Kathryn Montgomery, American University

  • Donald Lee Shifrin, American Academy of Pediatrics

  • Susan Linn, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Prized Quotes from Food Industry Executives

Prize for most questionable scientific data – Coca-Cola
“Our data tells us that in high schools, kids are consuming a couple of ounces a day [of soft drinks] on average.”
(According to Liquid Candy, teenagers get 13 percent of their calories from soft drinks.)

Prize for most deceptive statement of school policy – Coca-Cola
“We believe the classroom should be commercial free.”
(Apparently, once a child steps into the hallway and is bombarded with Coke and Sprite logos on vending machines, all bets are off.)

Prize for most obvious use of expert name-dropping – McDonald’s
“Dr. Dean Ornish, the number one person in preventive medicine, is a consultant to McDonald’s now to help us as we form our messages to children in so many important ways.”

Prize for the most twisted application of the word “moms.” – McDonald’s
“We have 11 million or more moms that we try to get information into their hands on a regular basis, through a program they sign up for, the McMoms Program.”

Prize for the most confidence that people were on industry’s side – PepsiCo
“I don’t know about you, but I could use an ice cold Diet Pepsi right now. I wish I could sell them to all of you.” (Followed by laughter.)

Connecticut Governor Caves to Coke

In case you missed it, in June, a school nutrition bill that would have been one of the strongest in the nation was vetoed by Connecticut’s Republican Governor Jodi Rell. If you’re wondering if politics played a part, read Michele Simon’s article:
The Junk Food Lobby Wins Again,
June 17, 2005

And if you’re in Massachusetts consider supporting a similar bill to eliminate the sale of sodas, sports drinks, and high-fat foods in school. This bill faces the same strong opposition from the soda industry. The Massachusetts Public Health Association is asking for help in endorsing the bill and attending the hearing on October 5. For more information, contact Roberta Friedman, MPHA’s Director of Education at (617) 524-6696 ext.103, or

Junk Food’s Health Crusade

CIFC’s Michele Simon has a lengthy article in the March/April issue of the Multinational Monitor about how the food industry claims to care about children by turning Ronald McDonald into a “health ambassador” and marketing so-called healthier processed foods. Left out of the mega PR-campaign is the dirty little secret of how Big Food lobbies against school-based nutrition policies. To read the full article:

The Passing of Peter Jennings

On August 7, ABC News anchor Peter Jennings died tragically from lung cancer at age 67. We at Informed Eating wanted to remind readers of Jennings’ unique contribution to the obesity dialogue in the U.S. In December 2003, Jennings hosted an excellent ABC News Special called “How to Get Fat Without Really Trying,” in which he exposed the connections of the obesity epidemic to government policies and food industry marketing practices. In his opening remarks to this program, he said:


“Now we know that blaming the government because so many people are overweight will be rejected by those who say that personal health and wellbeing are a matter of personal responsibility. We were inclined to that point of view. But this project has proved to us that the processed food industry and the government know full well what is happening and they are making a bad situation worse.”

How refreshing for such a respected journalist to be open to the truth and not allow politics or a pro-corporate bias to influence his reporting. Despite criticism from the right for the show being “biased,” Jennings continued to air news segments that questioned the role of the food industry. He also moderated a stimulating panel on food marketing to children last year at the ABC News/Time Obesity Summit. Food Politics author Marion Nestle shared the following with Informed Eating: "When I was filmed for the obesity special, Peter Jennings started the interview by saying that the entire program was based on my book. I was overwhelmed that someone of his stature would be so interested in the issues I care about and am heartbroken at his loss."

Finally, a word about how he died because little has been said about it in the media coverage. According to Stan Glantz, professor medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and expert on the tobacco industry, this is no coincidence. Cigarette companies are notorious for threatening media outlets with lawsuits for saying anything negative about them. Glantz told Democracy Now: “None of the coverage I’ve seen talked about the fact that he was killed by the tobacco industry and that he died a very premature and quite horrible death because he was addicted to nicotine.” He also noted how ironic this was because Jennings, more than any other mainstream journalist, did numerous segments and specials devoted to exposing Big Tobacco. Jennings will be missed for many reasons, not least among them his keen interest to these two important public health issues.

To purchase the ABC News Special (an excellent teaching tool) visit:

To view the Democracy Now segment


Protect Your Legal Rights: Advocacy Kit to Oppose “Cheeseburger Bills”
The food industry is systematically trying to change laws from state to state and in Congress to bar consumers from being able to hold corporations accountable in court. These laws, often titled "Commonsense Consumption Acts," (sometimes nicknamed “cheeseburger bills”) have nothing to do with common sense or with consumption. Instead, they operate to grant special immunity to large corporations who are afraid of being held responsible for their actions. The Center for Informed Food Choices has collaborated with the Public Health Advocacy Institute to put together an advocacy kit to help you oppose any such bill in your state.
Visit PHAI’s website for details:

Round-up of 2005 State Legislation
Two new excellent resources are now available to help review state-level legislation related to nutrition and physical activity for 2005. The larger and more comprehensive report is from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the other, focused just on childhood obesity, is from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Access the reports here:

Review of Soda Contracts in Oregon Public Schools
We were remiss in failing to report back in April the release of an excellent study by the Community Health Partnership that analyzed contracts between a sample of Oregon school districts and beverage vendors. Among the report’s findings was that schools often receive very little money, as compared to the rhetoric that we often hear about how great these deals are.
View the report and related documents here:

Upcoming Events

3rd Annual Conference on Legal Approaches to the Obesity Epidemic
Boston, September 23-25

The Public Health Advocacy Institute convenes its 3rd annual conference, Legal Approaches to the Obesity Epidemic, September 23 – 25 at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. This year's conference will focus on childhood obesity. Topics include: litigation, marketing to children, school vending contracts, legislative approaches, and the tension between public health and industry goals. CIFC’s Michele Simon will be moderating the legislation panel.
For details visit:

Food Marketing to Children and the Law
Los Angeles, October 21

Save the date of October 21 for a symposium on “Food Marketing to Children and the Law,” co-sponsored by the Center for Informed Food Choices and Loyola Law School. The event promises to be everything the FTC meeting (see above) wasn’t, namely: a substantive discussion on how to apply the law to effectively curb junk food marketing to kids. Confirmed speakers include legal scholars Angela Campbell of Georgetown, David Yosifon of Rutgers, and Tracy Westen, FTC deputy director during the late 1970s, who will offer a unique historical perspective. The event is free and open to the public.
For complete details, visit:

Seeking Local Stories of Battling Big Food

CIFC is currently gathering stories at the state and local levels where the food industry is attempting to block nutrition advocacy efforts. Many states, cities, and counties around the country are trying to pass nutrition-related legislation (e.g., limiting junk food in schools or imposing soda taxes), but the food industry is lobbying hard to either stop or curtail these efforts. If you know about any specific fights, we want to hear about them. We are especially interested in stories related to soda contracts in schools. Please contact Michele Simon at: or (510) 465-0322. Thank you!

The Center for Informed Food Choices in a nonprofit organization that advocates for a whole foods, plant-based diet and educates about the politics of food.

CIFC is proud to make Informed Eating available as a free public service. Unlike industry publications, it is not underwritten by corporate sponsors. We would greatly appreciate your support for this newsletter and our other important policy work. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit or call (510) 465-0322.

Informed Eating is written and edited by Michele Simon. You may contact her at Michele Simon is available for lectures and workshops in your community and can speak on a variety of food policy topics. For more information, visit:


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2005 Informed Eating  -  All Rights Reserved