U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has always made child health one of her top priorities. This week, she convened a White House summit, hoping to encourage the food industry to change their marketing practices so that kids can be encouraged to eat more healthily.
According to the White House, the invite list to the event (which was closed to media and the public) included parents’ groups and nutrition advocates as well as representatives from the food industry. But the message to the industry was clear. “I’m here today with one simple request — and that is to do even more and act even faster when it comes to marketing to kids,” Ms. Obama said in her introductory public remarks.
With the World Health Organization having called this summer for stricter rules on food marketing to kids, the First Lady is clearly seizing the moment to push the industry to act. She suggested that the industry could still remain profitable if they put their marketing muscle behind healthier products.
Whether the industry listens remains to be seen. And in the regulation-phobic U.S.A., whether a voluntary industry self-regulation can be effective is another matter entirely. Still, it’s nice to see that someone at the top of the world’s most powerful nation (and one if its unhealthiest) is taking this crucial health issue to heart.