Friday, January 20, 2006

First Tobacco, Now Junk food

Over the past few years there have been various attempts to attack fast food and junk food in general for spread of obesity in America. The latest salvo in the war on junk food comes from the Center for Science in the Public Interest who is threatening to sue Kellog's and Viacom(owner of Nickelodeon and Spongebob Squarepants) for advertising junk food to children. The vehicle for the potential lawsuit, which would be filed in the Massachusetts(no surprise there!), is Sherri Carlson, a mother of three children who said:

Are Pop Tarts and Fruit Loops really part of a nutritious breakfast as they claim in their ads? I think not.

While that may be true to some extent, I would like Sherri to tell me who does the grocery shopping and feeds the kids in her house? Are her children going down to the store and buying Pop Tarts on their own? Are they having a tantrum because they see the commercials and demand the food be bought? No matter what the case, if this woman is doing her due diligence as a mother, who cares if the kids watch 30 minute informercials on the great taste of sugar cereals, the decision whether they get that kind of food or not lies with her or her husband(if there is one) This is another case where personal responsibility has been abdicated and we have some parent screaming, "It is not my fault the children eat junk food, it is the evil corporation advertising to my impressionable children!" No, Sherri, it is your job to teach your children how to eat healthy, it is your job to make sure they get the rights kinds of food, and it is also your job to make sure they do not spend so much time in front of the television.

My advice to Sherri Carlson is to buck up and be a responsible parent instead of attempting to the government and courts to do it for you. I have two children and my job as a parent is not dependent on how much evil the world puts in front of my children. My job as a parent is about guarding them from that evil by giving them the tools to make the right decisions, and until they are old enough to make those decisions on their own, I will make it for them. I also establish control over them and establish rules to govern their behavior so they can learn how to function in the world. Contrary to what Hilary Clinton may think it does not take a village to raise a idiot maybe...but not a child. That role is vested with the parents alone.

Side Note: Sherri Carlson is also wrong in her assertion that Kellog's is advertising their products to be a nutritious breakfast, which would indeed be false advertising. The line that is always used is "part of a nurtitious breakfast" which a show of the ceral or Pop Tart next to fruits, eggs, toast, and juice. This further lends to the idea that it is the parent's responsibility to not just give them a Pop Tart eat but augment that which healthy food as well.

Update had a more detailed article which among other things shows CSPI to be a serial purveyor of frivolous lawsuits. Pertaining to the current attack on junk for, here is an excerpt:

Jacobson said parents have primary responsibility for making sure their children eat healthy foods, but he said they need help.

''They need some protection from these predators," he[Michael Jacsobson] said. ''What kid isn't going to fall victim to this advertising and demand they eat the products. Maybe the parent will say no the first time or the first 20 times, but they don't want to always be saying no to their children."

Sherri Carlson, a Wakefield mother of three, said she agreed to be a plaintiff in the case because her children watch television and routinely ask for the junk foods they see advertised.

''I try to be firm, but I do have to compromise a lot and make exceptions," she said. ''I try to make unhealthy foods a treat rather than part of a regular diet."

Actually I think the less help we get from the government on raising our kids the better, just look at public schools. Anyway, the big problem here is that they are afraid parents are made out to be bad guys for saying no too much? Again, it is the responsibility of the parent to take whatever course of action necessary to protect your children. Filing a lawsuit against a coroporation for advertising in the free market just because you do not want your child to see junk food advertised and in turn put you in the position to say "no" to them is so absurd it hurts. And for CSPI director Michael Jacobson to assert the parents do not always want to be saying no to their children flies in the face of common sense. If my child asks 20 times to go play in the street I will say no each time. Should I get to sue the city and state to bar traffic from coming onto my street so I can say yes sometimes so my children can play in the street? Of course not, it is stupid and people like this need to spend there time and resources actually addressing these problems instead of tying up the courts in an effort to gain goverment control over personal aspects of people's lives.

As for Sherri Carlson? Well cry me a river! That is how kids are and if you do not like them watching commercials then turn off the television or have them watch DVDs or at the very least suck it up and do some actual parenting. Having been a parent over three years now I can safely say the more times I say "no" the better off my children will be as they grow up.


Michelle Malkin

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