Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. "3 Food and Agriculture." Alliances for Obesity Prevention: Finding Common Ground: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.
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Alliances for Obesity Prevention
that believes in its goals and is interested in funding its programs because “for us, the limitations of our ability to help [achieve these goals] are pretty much financial.” Linn observed that CCFC accepts no corporate funding and is very interested in reducing screen time for children, and would work with health, education, environmental, or other organizations that share the same goal. And Thomas said Walmart is interested in working with organizations that can take advantage of the size and scale of the corporation to give its customers access to healthy, affordable food.
Russell Pate, associate vice president for health sciences and professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, observed that many of the food and agriculture panelists had mentioned physical activity. He added that another theme of the presentations was that children are more likely to be physically active if they are outdoors rather than indoors. Metallo responded that getting schoolchildren outdoors is always a challenge, especially with a major part of the school year falling during the winter. Nevertheless, he said outstanding indoor gardening programs are available, even if they do not provide as much exercise as outdoor programs would. Even indoors, children can move around the classroom, explore plants, and learn about plant systems. Also, most schools can offer a short outdoor program in the fall and in the spring. Linn observed that when children are outside, they are away from screens, so outside play is an important issue for CCFC.
The final question in the discussion period was asked by Amy Dawson Taggart, national director of Mission: Readiness, about how the corporate culture can be shifted toward the marketing of high-quality, healthy foods, especially in marketing to children. Linn responded that drawing nutritional lines around food marketing to children does not make sense. “What we need to do is to stop marketing food to children altogether,” she said. “We should be marketing food to parents. If we were marketing food to parents, companies would be marketing more around nutrition than around characters or exploiting children’s developmental vulnerabilities around peer pressure.” Marketing to children is unfair and deceptive, she said, and it harms their relationship to food “because what they are learning is to choose food based on who is on the box, or based on how it will advance them socially.” Linn ended by saying that banning food marketing to children would provide a level playing field for companies so they would not have to market to children to be competitive. “I understand that our position isn’t politically popular at the moment. But … that’s what we need to do. Kids don’t benefit from any kind of food marketing. If all of the marketing were cleared away, parents could be the gatekeepers and choose food without being pressured by corporations,” she concluded.