We’ve seen plenty of hysterical bouts of food scaremongering from self-anointed haters of anything tasty, but today’s hyperbole should get some kind of award. Leslie Samuelrich, chief of staff for the killjoy think tank Corporate Accountability International (CAI), wonders why more people aren’t crusading against fast food restaurants. To drive the point home, she makes this outlandish comparison:
If the product were a gun, or drugs, or even a poorly designed toy that could injure a child, the corporation responsible for making it and then marketing it to the most vulnerable among us would be on the hook.
Yikes! Of course, it’s illegal for children to buy guns, and for anyone to buy certain kinds of drugs. So there’s really no logical comparison. After all, people need food to live. All food provides calories—energy—to the body. And calories are calories, whatever food they come from.
Short of banning burgers, CAI’s marching orders are to crack down on fast-food advertising, even calling one famous mascot “a duplicitous clown” and warning darkly that he’s been spotted everywhere from schools to hospitals. (Did this group hire MeMe Roth as a consultant?)
But do advertising bans really affect childhood obesity? The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity notes that “a causal link between marketing and increasing childhood obesity rates has yet to be firmly established.” Sweden tried banning ads directed at children under age 12, but more than ten years later their obesity rate was still comparable to the UK’s. (The Brits had no such prohibition.) The same was true about Quebec, when compared to the rest of Canada.
We’re all for “accountability,” but let’s start somewhere more logical: with activist hyperbole, and the public-health clowns who keep making the same failed proposals again and again.