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The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend about how a long awaited “report from the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, is expected to address whether food and beverage advertising contributes to childhood obesity. Whatever it concludes, it's likely to reignite the debate that already has brought calls for tougher regulation of the $500 billion-plus U.S. food industry.”

The report is due out Tuesday.

Expected to be addressed is whether the more than ten billion dollars put against advertising sometimes-unhealthy foods to children actually bear some culpability for the obesity epidemic in America. Some, like Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), hope that the report will have concrete evidence that will support his call for national legislation regulating advertising to children.

While food manufacturers clearly hope that such evidence is either non-existent or less that persuasive, the WSJ notes that these suppliers obviously already are accepting the inevitable; some (like Kraft) are either tempering their advertising messages and campaigns, and others are reformulating products so that they are healthier and more nutritious.
KC's View:
Hard to imagine that the report will leave manufacturers blameless.

After all, that’s why companies have been acting preemptively.

The question is whether the report will prompt some sort of legislative response to the problem of childhood obesity.

We have to admit to being torn. On the one hand, we think it ought to be up to parents to guide their children in such things. But maybe society owes more to its children.

We remember growing up being told by our parents in the days and weeks before Christmas that “Santa Claus doesn’t bring TV toys” – letting us know that the ads we were seeing on television likely wouldn’t translate into toys underneath the tree. And that was enough for us.

But those were the days of black-and-white televisions and three networks. We live in a different world today. There are so many media outlets, so many influences, that it is almost impossible to oversee all of them, much as we try.

We’re torn.