Nutrition standards won’t fix ‘Big Food’s’ worst child marketing tactics

July 9, 2013, The Huffington Post

By Michele Simon

Last month, I participated in an important panel at a childhood obesity conference to discuss the current strategy backed by some advocacy groups: asking industry to market “healthier” foods to children. But as Susan Linn and I recently argued, any marketing to children is harmful, regardless of the product’s nutritional content.

Instead of begging corporations to tweak the grams of sugar, fat and salt that these highly processed junk foods contain, we should demand that industry stop exploiting children altogether. Some advocates argue this approach is too radical. But it’s actually far more practical and ultimately more effective because of certain key tactics that industry uses to target children. Continue reading

McDonald’s fined in Brazil for pushing Happy Meals to children

April 22, 2013, Reuters

By Brad Haynes

A consumer protection agency in Brazil has taken aim at the Happy Meal, fining McDonald’s Corp on April 22 for targeting children with its advertising and toys.

The Procon agency in the state of Sao Paulo fined the fast-food company 3.2 million reais ($1.6 million), adding fuel to a global debate about fast food and public health.

As with the case in Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy, much of the debate centers on how McDonald’s and other fast-food companies market to children and other young consumers.

While the initial fine may have little impact on the world’s largest restaurant chain, the agency said additional citations for similar advertising could arise, more than doubling the cost to McDonald’s. Consumer agencies in other jurisdictions could also soon follow the precedent in Brazil’s most populous state. Continue reading