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Food Nanny Activists’ “Studies” Support Non-Solutions To Childhood Obesity

Posted Jul 06 2012 12:21am


Activists’ self-serving “studies” and “reports” have become a conventional tool in today’s sophisticated anti-business campaigns. Often funded by cause-oriented private foundations and released through academic institutions, these studies are routinely circulated through the media.

We’ve seen two instances of this approach recently in the crusade against food and beverage companies. The Rudd Center at Yale University published a report on trends in the cereal industries’ advertising to children. The report’s message is that while the nutritional value of cereal may be improving, the “level” of advertising to children is not. Rudd credits the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as the report’s primary financial sponsor.

The apparent implication is that advertising for “kid-friendly” cereals should be banned, or at least monitored and controlled. Move over big brother, sugar nannies are coming to town.

While the potential unintended consequences of such efforts come to mind, it is not even clear that such efforts’ intended consequences will occur. For starters, the links between advertising and consumption, and between consumption and obesity, are unclear at best. There will always be outside influences that parents and cereal companies cannot manage, and for which few studies control.

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