IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK, SENATOR TOM HARKIN CAMPAIGNS FOR THE KID VOTE

Congress continues to put the heat on food companies for marketing unhealthy snacks to vulnerable children. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa took up the cudgel this week, in a Capitol Hill hearing we pray no children were watching:

“We got rid of Joe Camel. We’ve got to get rid of Shrek,” he said, holding large pictures of both.

Of course, Harkin did have a point, even if he expressed it monstrously. He went on to attack some of our own least favorite children's books, those in the Product Placement genre:

... behind a long table crammed with food and toy products featuring characters such as Shrek, Spider-Man and even Barbie clad in a McDonald's uniform, Mr. Harkin held up a book titled The Oreo Counting Book: 10 to 1 Is so Much Fun and called the marketing efforts by the food industry "obscene."

Yeah, those counting books - Cheerios makes them, too - are pretty stunning in their chutzpah. How many preschoolers have reached the end of one and said, "OK, now I want 10 Oreos!! NOW!!" It's like teaching algebra to teenage boys using breasts.

CAN'T THEY JUST LET US EAT OUR APPLE JACKS IN PEACE?

The $6.2 billion cereal industry was called out this week for introducing reduced-sugar versions of their sweetest cereals, but not actually making them any healthier. Nutritionists at five universities found that the sugar in the reduced-sugar boxes of Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, and Trix had been replaced by Splenda and other crunchy carbs, all of which the body treats the same as it does sugar (i.e., by turning it into unsightly fat). In fact, the experts said, Splenda actually keeps children’s taste for sugar artificially high, making it more difficult for parents ever to cut back. The reduced-sugar cereals also have virtually the same number of calories per serving as the original brands, though we expect kids who don't realize that will eat more than they did of the originals.

Bon appetit!

March 17, 2005 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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