A Nanny State Pediatrician:

This is an actual quote from a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics from the HHS/FTC Joint Workshop on obesity and marketing a few weeks back (p. 142 of the Hearing transcript) expressing the Academy's support for a ban on advertising directed at children as a tool to fight children's obesity:

Contrast that with the amount of time that children spend seeing--let's bandy about the number--40,000 or so commercial messages each year, the 20 percent of two to seven-year-olds that have televisions in their bedrooms, the 68 percent of eight to 18-year-olds that have television in their bedrooms, it hardly seems like a level playing field for parents and pediatricians.

With respect to the difficulty of pediatricians influencing children's diets, I grant his point. But with respect to parents, give me a break--68% percent of parents allow their kids to have televisions in their bedrooms and then complain that they are defenseless against advertising? If this is a concern, I can think of one obvious defense for parents to "level the playing field"--how about removing the tv from the bedroom? I'll bet that would actually make a difference in children's obesity rates.

This leaves aside the fabulism of the 40,000 figure--a figure that I have debunked elsewhere.


I should have been more clear in my original post that my comments (this time) were not addressed at the question of the merits of restricting food (or other advertising) directed at children. It was just meant to focus on the implication that somehow the presence of the televisions in kids' rooms came about exogenously and that parents are truly powerless to prevent the exposure of their kids to television.