FTC, HHS Convene Self-Reg Powwow


The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services will hold a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., this summer to discuss media self-regulation of the marketing of food and beverages.

FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras announced the conference in a speech Friday to the Consumer Federation of America. Majoras said the initiative will "take a snapshot of the current state of food and beverage marketing to children, review existing self-regulatory efforts, and discuss best practices by companies."

The workshop is in response to a childhood obesity study by the Institute of Medicine that called for such a conference.

Majoras called better food marketing to kids "one small, if highly visible, part of the effort to address the nation's childhood obesity problem." She suggested there are many causes of that problem, "from eating too many snacks, to watching too much television, to not getting enough exercise, to eating too large a serving at a favorite restaurant, and on and on."

Majoras made clear that the workshop was "NOT [emphasis hers] the first step toward new government regulations to ban or restrict children's food advertising and marketing." But she also said was a "call to action" to industry.

American Advertising Federation President Wally Snyder said he was pleased that Majoras "recognized the value of self-regulation."

The announcement came a day after Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) announced she was reintroducing a bill to fund NIH research into, among other things, the connections between media usage and obesity.