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February 24, 2010

Is there too much 'Let's Hope' in 'Let's Move'?

pringlesThe industry talks a good game, but keeps churning out the same old junk. It's no mystery that Michelle Obama's Let's Move anti-obesity campaign is built on industry cooperation. It's also true that many experts are skeptical of the wisdom behind it; nutritionist Marion Nestle has been particularly critical both of the government's food industry "health" partnerships as well as of the administration's unwillingness to fight the industry's relentless media advertising.

I tend to agree. While the Let's Move initiative is full of worthy proposals, especially in the area of addressing food deserts and promoting farm-to-city initiatives, the idea of leaving restrictions on junk food television advertising -- not to mention junk food taxes -- out of the equation seems to base the pitch just a bit too much as an appeal to our better angels. It's hard to see public service announcements and educational campaigns counteracting those hundreds of millions of dollars work of junk food ads Americans of all ages submit to every time they turn on their televisions.

And it certainly doesn't help when star athletes, some of whom will no doubt participate in Let's Move, continue to flack for junk food (from Petyon and Eli Manning and Oreos to Derek Jeter and Gatorade). Meanwhile, anyone who's been watching the Olympics knows that NBC's coverage of this ultimate athletic event has been awash in ads for soda and other junk food. Even the Olympians themselves are in on the act -- Alternet noted that snowboarder Brad Martin is featured prominently in a McDonald's ad shown repeatedly during the Olympics.

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