We have waited long enough for the food industry to voluntarily develop standards to reduce the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. While the proposed uniform standards recently announced by several food companies are a step in the right direction, they do not go far enough to have a significant impact on limiting the types of unhealthy foods marketed to children.
According to the American Heart Association, one in three children in the U.S. is considered overweight and obese. Food manufacturers must adopt the science-based nutrition guidelines proposed by government agencies. This will help families make healthier food choices and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke which remain our nation’s number one and three causes of death annually.
Nearly 40 percent of sixth graders are considered overweight or obese according to the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services. As a scientist aiming to prevent cardiovascular diseases and stroke, I am alarmed at the condition of our children’s health in the Garden State. Over-consumption of high calorie foods is largely to blame for these growing waistlines. Aggressive measures are necessary to reverse this disturbing trend.
Food manufacturers need to go a step further and adopt the government’s proposed principles. This will significantly limit children’s exposure to advertisements promoting foods and beverages that are high in sugar, trans-fat, sodium and low in nutritional quality and will reassure parents who are trying to do the right thing for their children.
Dr. Kenneth Maynard
American Heart Association-American Stroke Association Volunteer
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