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In his testimony last week before the Institute of Medicine Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention, Scott Faber, VP of federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), noted that the preponderance of scientific evidence connected sedentary behavior to obesity, while no link has been established between TV ads and body mass index. The findings Faber cited came in part from new research by George Washington University professor Howard Beales.
According to Beales, “[T]he state of the evidence concerning the relationship between television advertising and childhood adiposity remain much as it was” in 2006, when an Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel found the evidence was “not sufficient to arrive at any finding about causal relationship from television advertising to adiposity.” Beales’ review of the literature looked at all relevant studies on the subject that have been conducted since 2006. The review found that recent studies don’t successfully distinguish between the effects of advertising and the effect of other factors on obesity.
During Faber’s testimony, he emphasized the industry’s commitment to furnishing consumers with more nutritious product choices, as well as tools and information to adopt a more healthful diet. Over the past few years, food and beverage manufacturers have reformulated the recipes of more than 20,000 products to lower calories, fats, sugar and sodium. They have also implemented guidelines for items advertised on children’s TV programs and have pledged to remove a collective 1.5 trillion calories from the food supply by 2015 by reducing the calorie content or portion sizes of many products.
“Recent studies confirm what we already know: There is a clear connection between sedentary behavior and obesity,” Faber testified. “That is why our industry is committed to promoting healthy eating patterns and increased physical activity so that we can meet First Lady Michelle Obama’s goal of solving childhood obesity within a generation.”
Feber’s testimony and Beales’ research are available online at www.gmaonline.org.
Washington-based GMA comprises more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies.