Lieberman Takes On Fast-Food Marketing

NEW YORK Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), a frequent crusader against violence in video games and movies, wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how junk food is marketed to children, the Democratic candidate for president said Thursday during a visit to Nashua, N.H.

Calling the obesity issue a part of his “Valuing Families Agenda,” Lieberman said: “Parents today are being forced to contend with a new threat; big food companies targeting junk food at children. And that’s literally feeding an epidemic of obesity that our top public health experts contend is the biggest health threat out there today. It’s time to stand up to the companies marketing to children products that can be harmful to their health.”

Lieberman introduced a plan that also includes asking Congress to direct the FTC to develop standards for disclosing relevant nutritional information of foods that are routinely marketed to children; require national food chains to post clear labels with nutritional content on menus and wrappers; and direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop sensible standards for the food that’s sold in public schools.

Clark Rector, senior vice president of government affairs at the Washington D.C.-based American Advertising Federation, said that many of Lieberman’s proposed steps are already taking place. Fast-food companies are required to outline the nutritional value in their products, lunch programs are being standardized to ensure nutritional value, and the FTC already monitors food marketing to kids.

“[Obesity] is a much more complicated problem than marketing food to children,” Rector said. “We’re a changing society that’s much less active.”

Rector noted that fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Burger King existed 25 years ago, before the advent of video games and fewer physical education programs for children.