Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts, Project No. P094513 #00359

Submission Number:
Amy Nelson
SF Dept of Children Youth and Their Families
Initiative Name:
Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts, Project No. P094513
Dear Secretary Vilsack, Chairman Leibowitz, Director Frieden, and Commissioner Hamburg: Thank you for your efforts through the Interagency Working Group (IWG) to reduce unhealthy food marketing to children. I am in strong support of uniform food marketing standards that will prioritize children's health, support parents, and catalyze industry to take greater responsibility for marketing strategies. I am a government employee who administers the USDA funded Summer Food Service Program year-round to ensure that kids have access to healthy, free meals every day throughout the city of San Francisco. Far too often, I see kids rejecting the FREE organic, local fruits and vegetables we have provided in favor of Flamin Hot Cheetoes and Cokes that they can purchase at the corner store. It seems unnatural that they would want unhealthy food they have to pay for over something free, delicious and healthy, but children (like all of us) are creatures of habit that are continuously influenced by our environment. They are bombarded by images and jingles advertising these products from companies that spend 3 times as much money on one commercial as they do donating to community events and health programs all year. While local, state and federal health education helps to inform about the importance of eating healthy, the funding available is NO MATCH for the larger companies promoting products and lifestyles over health and prevention. I am all too familiar with the toll that day-in and day-out marketing of unhealthful food has on children and families across the country. While the food and beverage industry pursues bigger profits, parents are expected to play defense in a world where food marketers have access to children in schools, in stores, on television, and online -- a world designed to make their kids consume junk food. Parents can't do it all alone. Industry says they want to be part of the solution and these guidelines will help them do it. Strong standards on foods marketed to kids will shift the balance in the right direction--towards the health of children and families. I agree with IWG's requirement that foods marketed to children contain real-food ingredients like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while limiting harmful nutrients such as sodium, added sugar and saturated fat. I also strongly support the IWG's comprehensive view of marketing to children, covering the wide range of approaches companies use, including online and digital mechanisms. I thank the IWG for its strong nutrition and marketing guidelines, and urge you to finalize them by the end of the year. The health of America's children hangs in the balance, and I urge you not to bow to industry pressure when the stakes are so high. Sincerely, Amy Portello Nelson