Task Force To Combat Childhood Obesity Plans First Meeting


The first meeting will be on Valentines Day, but don't expect them to hand out big heart-shaped boxes of candy.

February 14 is the date for the first gathering of Media and Childhood Obesity: Today and Tomorrow, the public-private task force on obesity and food marketing to kids. The task force was launched last fall by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) with an assist from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate.

Participants range from the Parents Television Council to Disney, which is the only broadcast network parent company represented.

Others in the task force include the American Diabetes Association, American Society for Nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, Kraft, Coca-Cola, General Mills, The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Kellogg, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Ion Media Networks, Viacom, Discovery Channel, Sesame Workshop, Black Family Channel, Telemundo, The Beverly LaHaye Institute, The Benton Foundation, Children Now, Common Sense Media, The Center for Screen Time Awareness, PTA, The Ad Council, Association of National Advertisers, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

When he launched the effort back in September, Brownback said he wanted to find a way for the media industry and government to work together on voluntary steps to combat the growing national health problem of childhood obesity. He said this was a solution  preferable to "more government regulation."

"The Media Task Force has all the signs of enlightened policymaking," said American Association of Advertising Agencies Senior VP and General Counsel Adonis Hoffman. "It's noteworthy that Congress and the FCC chose to confer with many of the key stakeholders on the issue before they chose to act. I'm sure they will find industry to be a guiding light on strategies and solutions to a difficult societal problem."

The ad industry has already launched an effort to target more messages to limit snack ads to children and increase messages about healthy diet and lifestyle to kids under 12 and to increase self-enforcement of deceptive advertising to children.