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The Government and Pinocchio

by: Jill Richardson

Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 14:00:00 PM PST

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Expect to see new ads featuring characters from Pinocchio marketing The USDA and the Ad Council just put out a press release announcing the new campaign, which will encourage "Moms" (not parents of both gender?) to feed their kids healthy food.

The first thing I did when I saw the news was ask Michele Simon for her opinion. She's the author of Appetite for Profit and as an expert in Big Food's slimy ways of marketing junk to kids, I knew she'd feel strongly about this one. And I was right! She said:

This is a sad sign that change has apparently NOT come to all of Washington. Teaming up with corporate sponsors whose sole goal is hook kids under the guise of "nutrition education" was a hallmark of the Bush Administration.

In this time of fiscal "responsibility" we should not be wasting more tax dollars on useless and ineffective advertising campaigns. If the new administration is serious about address childhood obesity, it should put its new FTC chairman to work on getting the junk food industry to stop targeting our kids with unhealthy messages. As for the USDA, its time would be better spent getting Big Agriculture out of the way of real reform of our broken food system.

OK, even if some of us think that Pinocchio might be an appropriate spokesperson for officials in our government, I'm with Michele on this one. I don't doubt they mean well BUT this is the wrong way to go about accomplishing their goals. Marion Nestle opened our eyes in her book Food Politics by exposing the politicization of the food pyramid - a USDA effort that still fails to tell anyone to "eat less." Rather, it encourages "balance" and tells us to "Eat Right. Be Active."

Now, "Be Active" is great advice, and it's advice that the American people should follow. But it's NOT dietary advice. It's the same advice given to Americans by the food industry via its mouthpiece, the Center for Consumer Freedom (funded by Coca-Cola and other junk food companies). Please, USDA, keep combating obesity in your list of priorities, but don't take the advice of the Center for Consumer Freedom to do it.

Jill Richardson :: The Government and Pinocchio
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Interesting that Coke is funding CCF/the ads (4.00 / 3)
seeing as there is a push to get sodas out of schools. . .

Isn't B Clinton starting an effort of kids/obesity? Something tells me he'd be a tad more effective. I'd take his word over Pinocchio, just sayin' . . .  

CCF doesn't fund the ads (4.00 / 2)
it just says the same message that the ads say. But officially they are unconnected. So Coke money goes to CCF, taxpayer money goes to the ads.

Re: Clinton, I wouldn't be surprised at all. Although any ad campaign isn't the way to fix obesity in any real way. Advertising regulation and school lunch reform are a better place to start.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Ack, my brain scrambled CCF/Ads info (4.00 / 3)
This is prob what I heard filtering into my head while working regarding Clinton:

[ Parent ]
thanks (4.00 / 2)
Clinton's been on this for a while but not in a way that will necessarily work. At least, in the past not a way that would work. In 2006 (I think) he negotiated a "voluntary" (and also bullshit) agreement w/ soda companies to limit soda in schools. It did approximately nothing except for get the soda companies and Clinton a lot of good PR.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Sexism + bad nutrition advice (4.00 / 3)
What a shameful combination. I hope the word gets out. This should be stopped in its tracks.

Moms? Seriously?

I'm just glad that new dietary guidelines will be published next year. That provides an opportunity for Vilsack to do something good.  

Hasn't the USDA heard? (4.00 / 1)
Getting kids to eat healthfully is just a formula for nationwide eating disorders!   ;)

We won't throw the first punch, but...okay, maybe we'll throw the first punch.

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