First Lady Michelle Obama has proposed a ban on junk food marketing in elementary schools that will remove unhealthy food and its advertising from schools, as well as require any companies that wish to advertise within schools to offer snacks and beverages that meet the nutritional standards set by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
“I think we can all agree that our classrooms should be healthy places where our kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” said Obama. “These guidelines are part of a broader effort to inspire food companies to rethink how they market food to kids in general.”
According to Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, companies spend approximately $150 million a year on school advertising. However, two-thirds of schools don’t make any profit from those companies, and less than half of one percent of schools earn more than $50 thousand a year from advertisers. According to Wootan, the real advantage goes to the food industry.
“They’ve been disguising money as philanthropy,” she told The Daily Meal. “For these companies, it’s really about cultivating brand loyalty at an early age.”
So far, the food industry’s response has been relatively positive, with the American Beverage Association announcing that they have already reduced the calorie content in school beverages by 90 percent, and would be taking further steps to comply with the guidelines set by the USDA. The proposal will be subject to public review for the next 60 days, while the USDA will also work with the food industry to establish a reasonable timeline to implement changes.
“This new approach to eating and activity is not just a fad, and it’s not just a movement,” Mrs. Obama said. “Nowhere is this more clear than in our schools.”
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.