As the earlier post noted, Commissioner Martin did not mince words in linking the growth of childhood obesity to the explosion in children's television advertising messages about food in recent years. Other speakers at the announcement similarly seemed to succeed in disentangling themselves from the purely free-market dogma that has characterized the conservative response to the childhood obesity epidemic (and I say that as a card-carrying economist with profound respect and admiration for markets!). For example, Commissioner Deborah Tate's comments at the announcement (.doc) include both the expected admonitions to mothers -- no mention of fathers -- to take the lead role in educating their children about nutrition. And, yet, she offers fascinating observations on the limits of the doctrine that this problem is purely a family matter:
Parents cannot do it alone. Pediatricians, teachers, food companies and the media cannot do it alone. Like I have said many times before, borrowing from "It takes a village," it will take an entire society to solve this epidemic.Similarly, Senator Brownback's press release says:
"Studies show that children eight and older are exposed to over six hours a day worth of media," continued Brownback. "Judging by the sheer volume of media and advertising that children consume on a daily basis, and given alarming trends in childhood obesity, we're facing a public health problem that will only get worse unless we take action."Other members of the Task Force include the advocacy group Children Now, whose interesting website I had not previously visited. They have done work especially on internet advertising in addition to television advertising.
Another group on the task force, which the student brought to my attention, is the conservative Christian Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI), which shares a web address with the Concerned Women for America. This paranoid and factually challenged tract on the danger of solving world poverty caught the student's notice.
Let's give this task force a wait and see.