WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, responded to the decision by Discovery Kids, a branch of the Discovery Communications family of cable networks, to stop licensing its name and characters for use in connection with unhealthy food and beverage products. In June, Rep. Markey called attention to the impact of junk food marketing on childhood obesity by chairing a hearing on “Images Kids See on the Screen.”

Rep. Markey said, “I commend Discovery Kids for taking this step to help protect children from unhealthy junk food ads and look forward to reviewing the details of their proposal. By helping kids discover the world beyond junk food, Discovery Kids is making an important statement about the responsibility that media companies have to join the fight against childhood obesity.


“Two years ago the Institute of Medicine linked the current unhealthy trend toward poor nutrition and childhood obesity to the prevalence of television advertisements for fast food, junk food, sugared cereals, and other foods wholly lacking in nutritional value. Ideally, children's television can be an electronic oasis of educational and informational fare for kids in the otherwise vast wasteland of commercial television. While some food marketers have started to set standards for junk food ads, media companies like Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network should follow the lead of Disney and Discovery Kids and take similar steps to assist in combating this public health problem.”


In June, the Kellogg Company agreed to adopt nutrition standards for the foods it markets to children and to place limits on its use of licensed characters and product placements in marketing directed at children. Then, last month, 11 food marketers including McDonald's, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo, made pledges to restrict junk food television advertisements directed at children.


August 13, 2007

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