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February 26 2014

FLOTUS: Let's Ban Unhealthy Food Ads

Patrice J. Lee

First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign turned four years old this week. Forget doing the Dougie, instead of dancing, she celebrated with a slew of new regulations.

Let’s Move is FLOTUS’s pet project to prod the nation’s children into healthier lifestyles through food bans and restrictions on they can consume at school.

The latest regulations would phase out advertising of sugary drinks and junk food during the school day on school property. Such drinks account for 90 percent of such ads at school. This means a score board at a high school football or basketball game wouldn’t be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, for example, but Diet Coke and Dasani water could be promoted.

While good health is an important goal, the Administration’s efforts through this campaign are really just window dressing for greater government control over our eating habits and an excuse to expand government transfer programs.

The Daily Mail reports:

First Lady Michelle Obama attempted to connect with schoolchildren across the country by rapping about healthy eating habits as she announced new rules that would limit the marketing of unhealthy foods in schools.

The rules would phase out the advertising of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day and ensure that other promotions in schools were in line with health standards that already apply to school foods.

The proposed rules are part of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative to combat child obesity, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this week.

The rules also would allow more children access to free lunches and ensure that schools have wellness policies in place.

The proposed rules come on the heels of USDA regulations that are now requiring foods in the school lunch line to be healthier.

Rules set to go into effect next school year will make other foods around school healthier as well, including in vending machines and separate 'a la carte' lines in the lunch room. Calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits will have to be met on almost every food and beverage sold during the school day at 100,000 schools. Concessions sold at afterschool sports games would be exempt.

Each First Lady has her own initiatives. Michelle Obama wants to attack youth obesity. Unfortunately, she’s been willing to trample over the rights, choices, and even preferences of kids, families, and schools to ram her project through. Those become freedom issues when an over-reaching government tries to control the behaviors of Americans. We’ve seen complimentary efforts in New York where former Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned “vices” such as cigarettes, trans fat, and soda and forced New Yorkers to take the stairs.

The First Lady is flexing her muscle and wants to prod the food industry into changing its practices as well. But she’s late to the party.  The food and beverage industry were moving in this direction well before the First Lady came along. As Julie Gunlock reported last year, the food industry is aware that healthy food sells and has changed its behavior accordingly. That makes it easy for the Administration to come in and take credit for initiating change that pre-dates it.

What remains unaddressed are costs attached to these new regulations. Facing tight budgets, administrators turned to drink and snack ad revenue to pay for extracurricular activities like school proms, athletics, and clubs. If vendors choose not to replace their ads, or don’t have products that qualify for marketing, will schools be able to replace that revenue? The response is probably to squeeze more money from taxpayers.

We all agree that our children should be healthier. Instead of cutting parents out of the discussion and working through the education system to expand government control, the First Lady should make an effort to start educating Moms and parents so that change in children’s health habits will start at home and be reflected at school. That is how lasting change occurs.

 

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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