Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lawsuits about food marketing to children in Massachusetts

Parents working with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) announced earlier this month that they intend to sue Viacom and Kellogg under consumer protection laws here in Massachusetts. You can imagine the reaction from conservatives and libertarians. Lawsuits are no reasonable person's favorite vehicle for progress in this area, and yet just about every other door for real protection for our children, in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic, has been slammed shut. There is some indication that CSPI would prefer negotiation with the food companies to following through on the litigation -- my impression, notwithstanding the vitriol from their critics on the right, is that the organization seems to be willing to be pragmatic if pragmatism offers hope for anything but endless delay (that story comes by way of the promising new Growers and Grocers weblog on the new Well Fed Network). The Institute of Medicine, eminent scientific advisor to the federal government, shares the plaintiffs' high level of concern about junk food marketing to children. The Institute of Medicine proposes voluntary industry action to convert junk food advertising to healthy food advertising, but if such a change is not forthcoming, the IOM calls for Congressional action to accomplish this goal. For a response to frequently asked questions about such lawsuits, and rebuttal to some of the objections you may be considering, take a visit to the website of the Center for a Commercial Free Childhood.

[Thanks to Chris of the weblog My Quiet Life for some of the links].

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