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WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate and Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman is seeking a federal investigation into the marketing practices of junk food firms, AP reports.
Lieberman, who earlier pushed to add parental warnings to film, video game and music advertising, wants the Federal Trade Commission to find out if a connection exists between junk food advertising and the rise in obesity in children.
"We're talking about how the government can get back on the side of parents and families and support them in raising healthy children and giving them good values," said Dan Gerstein, deputy communications director for Lieberman's campaign. "Governments can't raise children. That's the job of parents. But we can help to pull with them and pull for them."
If elected president, Lieberman would fight for three interim moves as the FTC undertakes the study:
-Compel junk food companies to include in their ads nutritional information that in some way issues a warning to parents, much like movie ads must feature parental ratings.
-Ask Congress to require restaurant chains to include nutritional information on menus and miniboards, as a bill pending in Congress already stipulates.
-Enable the U.S. Agriculture Department to set standards for food sold in schools, mainly via vending machines. The USDA now regulates lunch menus, but there are no limits on what companies can sell children through vending machines.
Lieberman's camp says that he won't offer a definition of junk food, leaving that to dietary and health care experts. Aides to the senator say that he has discovered a marketing pattern similar to the movie, video game, and music industries in food companies.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named obesity the top health issue in the United States, estimating that as many as 15 percent of children are overweight.