November 21, 2008

Will Joe Camel Get Ronald McDonald As A Cellmate In The Gulag?

Somebody thinks it's a good idea.

ATLANTA -- A little less "I'm Lovin' It" could put a significant dent in the problem of childhood obesity, suggests a new study that attempts to measure the effect of TV fast-food ads.

A ban on such commercials would reduce the number of obese young children by 18 percent, and the number of obese older kids by 14 percent, researchers found.

They also suggested that ending an advertising expense tax deduction for fast-food restaurants could mean a slight reduction in childhood obesity.

Some experts say it's the first national study to show fast-food TV commercials have such a large effect on childhood obesity. A 2006 Institute of Medicine report suggested a link, but concluded proof was lacking.

"Our study provides evidence of that link," said study co-author Michael Grossman, an economics professor at City University of New York.

The study has important implications for the effectiveness of regulating TV advertising, said Lisa Powell, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Health Research and Policy. She was not involved in the research but was familiar with it.

The percentage of U.S. children who are overweight or obese rose steadily from the 1980s until recently, when it leveled off. About a third of American kids are overweight or obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

The causes of childhood obesity are complicated, but for years researchers have been pondering the effects of TV advertising. Powell, for example, found fast-food commercials account for as much as 23 percent of the food-related ads kids see on TV. Others have estimated children see fast-food commercials tens of thousands of times a year.

Remember: It's not censorship if it's For The Children.

Posted by Robert at November 21, 2008 11:22 AM | TrackBack