FTC, HHS Announce Workshop on Childhood Obesity

Two-Day Event Will Examine Self-Regulation, Education Efforts

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will jointly sponsor a workshop on marketing, self-regulation, and childhood obesity on July 14 and 15, 2005, at the FTC Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. The workshop will bring together representatives from food and beverage companies, medical and nutrition experts, representatives from media and entertainment companies, consumer groups, advertising specialists, and other key experts for an open discussion on industry self-regulation concerning the marketing of food and beverages to children, as well as initiatives to educate children and parents about nutrition.

“Childhood obesity is a public health issue that must be addressed from all angles,” said FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. “This workshop will bring together a wide range of voices to examine ways, including self-regulation, to best promote competition among marketers of healthy foods and the dissemination of good information so that consumers can make healthy food choices.”

HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt added, “Obesity is one of the major health challenges facing the nation, especially our younger generation. Without early prevention and detection, obesity can have troubling consequences such as diabetes and heart and vascular diseases.” According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), over the past three decades, rates of obesity have tripled for children ages six to 11 years and more than doubled for children ages two to five years and adolescents 12 to 19 years. The 1999 - 2002 NHANES estimated that 16 percent of children and adolescents ages six to 19 years are overweight.

In planning this workshop, the FTC and HHS seek public comment on a variety of issues related to industry self-regulation and childhood obesity, including:

  • Food and beverage marketing to children;

  • Research on the impact of marketing on children’s health;

  • Existing industry-wide self-regulatory programs, including the experience of the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU);

  • Industry self-regulatory efforts and individual company marketing initiatives;

  • Efforts by industry members, media or entertainment companies, government, public advocacy groups, and others to educate children and their parents about nutrition; and

  • Plans and/or proposals for new initiatives.

A detailed agenda for the workshop will be posted by June 23, 2005, on the FTC’s Web site at www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/foodmarketingtokids/index.htm.

Comments must be submitted by June 9, 2005. Written comments should refer to “Food Marketing to Kids Workshop – Comment, P034519” on both the text and the envelope and mailed to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room 159-H (Annex H), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Comments containing confidential information must be filed in paper form. Commentors may also submit comments electronically at https://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-foodmarketingtokids/.

Parties interested in participating as panelists in the workshop must notify the FTC in writing by June 9, 2005. Panelist requests should be submitted electronically to foodmarketingtokids@ftc.gov or mailed to the address above. The FTC asks interested parties to include a statement detailing their expertise on the issues to be discussed at the workshop and complete contact information. Selected panelists will be notified by June 23, 2005.

The workshop is free and open to the public, but space will be limited. Pre-registration is not necessary, but is encouraged. Those pre-registering should send their name, affiliation, and e-mail address to foodmarketingtokids@ftc.gov. The FTC will use this information to estimate how many people will attend and better understand the likely audience for the workshop, and may use the e-mail address to contact the registrant with information about the workshop. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or other laws, the FTC may be required to disclose the information provided to outside organizations.

The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register notice was 5-0.

Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The Federal Register notice will be published shortly. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

(FTC File No. P034519)

Contact Information

Media Contact:

FTC Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2180