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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that “a working group made up of officials from several federal regulatory agencies Tuesday proposed restricting marketing of foods and beverages that contain significant amounts of sugar, sodium and saturated fat, in response to concerns about childhood obesity ... The recommendations of the group, which was created by Congress, reflect concerns that current marketing practices are influencing children's eating habits.” The US Congress will be presented with the recommendations next year,, following a period of public comment, at which point it will have to decide whether to take legislative action.

The working group is made up of officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, a spokesperson from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) suggested that voluntary moves by the food industry already are having some impact, and that new rules and regulations would be redundant. Mary Sophos, GMA’s Senior Vice President and Chief Government Affairs Officer, said that manufacturers are “continuing to provide a wider range of nutritious product choices and marketing these choices in responsible ways that promote healthy lifestyles.  We have joined with others in launching the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to promote ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance – balancing calories consumed as part of a healthy diet with calories expended through physical activity.”

Among the improvements cited by GMA: Studies say that “children viewed 31% fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads on children’s programming from 2004 to 2008,” as well as viewed fewer such ads on television general. In addition, “children are seeing more ads for fruits and vegetables on all TV as well as kids’ TV.”
KC's View:
It is almost impossible to imagine that Congress will be able to focus on this issue with any degree of common sense. There will be a lot of noise, a lot of hearings, and if they come out with any legislation it probably will be watered down, ineffective and annoying.