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The Los Angeles Times reports that First Lady Michelle Obama facilitated a White House meeting yesterday - of "business representatives, lobbyists, nutrition advocates and government officials" - designed to urge food manufacturers to increase their marketing of healthy products to kids.

According to the story, "The first lady held up Birds Eye as an example of a company that successfully increased sales of vegetables by ramping up advertising to children. She noted Disney's decision to limit licensing of its characters.
She also praised a group of 17 major food companies that have agreed to a self-regulatory initiative, in part to ward off possible government regulation."

The Times notes that while Michelle Obama has had a high profile in the anti-obesity movement since the early days of the Obama administration, she has largely been silent about the advertising component, and stayed silent "in 2011 while food and media companies banded together to kill a federal proposal aimed at pushing the industry to limit such practices."

Not surprisingly, industry groups - such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) - pointed to voluntary efforts as evidence of the private sector's responsibility and commitment. And equally as expected, proponents of greater regulation suggested that the message had to be tougher and the tone stronger, forcing the industry to be more vigilant or face legislative consequences.
KC's View:
Probably just a coincidence, but the First Lady seemed to have been "silent" about this issue during an election cycle. Go figure.

As a matter of interest, BTW...the had a story the other day saying that "teenagers are exercising more, consuming less sugar and eating more fruits and vegetables," trends that seem to be contributing to a leveling off of obesity rates in the US.

It isn't a universal trend line. The Times writes that "the numbers also revealed something of an age and racial divide. Younger children had the highest levels of physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption. But as children got older, the frequency of eating junk foods and engaging in sedentary behaviors crept up, along with average body mass index, a crude measure of obesity. Black and Hispanic adolescents lagged behind whites on almost every measure of progress, even after the researchers tried to take into account the influence of socioeconomic factors."

And, the Times says, it isn't enough, because most teenagers still are "falling short of federal recommendations, which call for children to get at least an hour of physical activity daily."

But something's working.