Four of our federally elected senators, in their divine wisdom, recently issued a letter to Nickelodeon and its parent company requesting that the children’s entertainment network prohibit advertisements that market unhealthy food to children. It reminded me of the Saturday Night Live clip, “Really??”
The letter, dated June 10 and signed by Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) states, “While there are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity, food marketing plays an important role. A 2006 Institute of Medicine report requested by Congress found that television advertisements influenced children’s food and beverage preferences and the requests they make to their parents.”
Sure, advertising is designed to influence preferences. After all, isn’t that why companies advertise? While I would rather companies sell products that are healthy, unless a product is immoral, illegal or dangerous, don’t they have as much right to advertise as the next company? When my children were little, I much preferred the ads for a sugary cereal than those for feminine hygiene products or cures for erectile dysfunction. At least with the cereal you weren’t constantly answering awkward, embarrassing questions.
We have major issues with healthcare, the IRS is being investigated on several levels and the transparency we were promised with this administration is about as transparent as a blindfold. Meanwhile, these elected officials feel the best use of their time is to write letters to Nickelodeon? It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad, especially since they’ve already failed to take real action.
In 2011, Congress killed a plan by four federal agencies to reduce sugar, salt and fat in food marketed to children. Wouldn’t changing the foods have a bigger impact than changing where the ads are seen?
The bottom line is that kids aren’t the ones buying the products – their PARENTS are. Let’s get real and recognize the real source of the problem.
Julie Gunlock, director of the Culture of Alarmism project at the Independent Women's Forum, says just as Americans don't need bureaucrats monitoring salt intake, banning sugary beverages and toys in happy meals, or trying to do away with trans-fats, we don't need a nanny government micromanaging what food commercials run on kids' television.
“This kind of meddling is outrageous and insulting to parents,” says Gunlock in response to the letter. “Americans don't need more regulations … from patronizing Senators who can't seem to understand that parents are ultimately responsible for their child's health and television consumption--where these ads appear. If people want their kids to see fewer advertisements, they simply need to employ the regulator that is built in to every television--the off button.”
What we need is a little common sense, along with a lot more personal responsibility. And that goes for our elected officials, too.