New Yale Study Highlights Role of Fast Food Marketing in Childhood Obesity Epidemic
Kucinich Bill Ends Taxpayer Subsidy for Marketing Fast Food and Junk Food to Kids
Nov 10 -
A new study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University confirms that efforts to market fast food to children are effective and rapidly expanding. The study’s conclusions drew more attention to the nearly $2 billion annual tax break the industry claims for marketing junk food and fast food to children. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is calling for adoption of his legislation, HR 4310, that would revoke tax breaks for marketing fast food and junk food to children.
“We are spending millions, if not billions of dollars every year on programs to fight the childhood obesity epidemic while giving almost $2 billion of taxpayer money to the junk food and fast food industries to make the epidemic worse,” said Kucinich.
The number of overweight children in the U.S. would be reduced by more than 5-7% if H.R. 4310 were enacted, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in the Journal of Law and Economics in 2008.
Fast food and junk food marketing to children is big business because it works. A child’s developing brain cannot tell the difference between fact and opinion and cannot yet think critically. It is no match for an industry that exploits this vulnerability by using cartoons, product placement in video games, cross-branding with popular toys, giveaways, and myriad other methods to develop brand loyalties and taste preferences as early as possible.
“It’s one thing to allow this type of predatory marketing to proliferate like this, but using taxpayer money to encourage it is reprehensible. We cannot credibly claim to be searching for solutions to childhood obesity if we don’t address corporate obesity marketing to children,” said Kucinich.
The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that H.R. 4310 could provide $15-19 billion over the next ten years for child nutrition programs. The House version of the child nutrition reauthorization requires an $8.5 billion offset over 10 years while the Senate version requires a $4.5 billion offset over 10 years. The child nutrition bill that Congress is scheduled to consider is funded by cutting food stamps.