Two possibilities beyond self-regulation are legislation and regulation. But legislative initiatives are not currently active, and the efforts of the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children to advance regulation were squelched, said Brownell. A remaining option is public pressure on companies to change their marketing practices. The question Brownell posed is how the public can be mobilized.
Despite the lip service paid to children, actions do not match words, Dietz observed in wrapping up the workshop. Children are society’s most vulnerable population, and those who care the most about them need to be mobilized. Parents will need to be on the front lines of such a mobilization, especially mothers, for whom trust is a significant issue and mistrust is a powerful motivator. Perhaps the issues could be related to various kinds of freedom, including freedom from disease, freedom to be active, or freedom to have access to healthful foods, Dietz said.